A Republican thinker did something radical this week: He proposed an agenda for job creation.
Michael R. Strain’s “A Jobs Agenda for the Right” includes all of the right’s compulsive instincts to cut taxes for the rich, eliminate environmental regulations and suspend the minimum wage. But it begins with the premise that long-term unemployment is a crisis and a crisis that can’t just be solved by doing those who have been out of work for months the “favor” of cutting off their only income, as Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) suggested.
Strain even seems to be in favor of a program that would feature infrastructure spending.
“Um, OK. There are people who’ve been trying to do just that. And not only Barack Obama,” The Daily Beast‘s Michael Tomasky pointed out. “John Kerry led this effort in the Senate, and he was joined by Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison (who’s since retired). Their attempts to fund a modest infrastructure bank were supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. But it could never get anywhere because of rock-solid GOP opposition.”
Tomasky notes that Republican obstruction is the key element that prevents any sort of job creation. This has continued past 2012, when it seemed the GOP’s only goal in life was to keep unemployment over 8 percent. And it will continue as 1.3 million being cut off from benefits likely sends the unemployment rate even lower as hundreds of thousands of Americans in the prime of the work lives decide to give up even looking for a job.
And there’s no better explanation of why we shouldn’t expect any movement toward job creation from the right than to point out that the person who replaced Kay Bailey Hutchison in the Senate was Ted Cruz (R-TX).
Cruz understands the base of the Republican Party better than any Canadian citizen alive.
He knows the only things that truly unite it are opposing anything President Obama does and pissing off liberals. Unfortunately for Cruz, it seems that major funders of his party recognize that these fixations of the right wing-media and the primary electorate are actually what will prevent it from winning the White House.
When it comes to bashing Obama and infuriating the left, it doesn’t get better than the last few months. Republicans have been blessed by the fumbled rollout of HealthCare.gov as they’ve collectively pretended that millions of people getting health insurance is a terrible thing.
The adrenaline of the last few months has helped the GOP erase most of the damage of the Cruz-led government shutdown. The memories of that fiasco and the focus on Obamacare’s struggles have empowered the party’s leadership to boldness few thought it was capable of.
Both House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have publicly blasted the outside conservative groups actively attempting to usurp their power. And they’ve consecrated a budget deal that likely indicates that government shutdowns and debt limit crises will not be an issue again for at least a couple of years.
In the next few months, the Republican leadership will mollify their members by offering various Obamacare repeals. But when the deadline to file for a primary election passes, their trouble begins.
Speaker Boehner has signaled that he will pursue some sort of immigration reform. It will probably not be enough to satisfy advocates but any sort of legalization at all — even just for people brought to this country as children — will be enough to enrage the right wing of the party. This will be happening as more than a half-dozen contested Senate primaries pit incumbents against Tea Partiers whose entire goal in life is to move the party to the right.
Both the right and the far right will accuse each other of corrupting the conservative movement. Millions will be wasted as the GOP likely faces its third chance to regain the Senate in as many election cycles as divided as it’s been in decades.
But what will always bring the party together is its true agenda when it comes to job creation.
That agenda is “denying Medicaid to 5 million poor Americans in states they control, proposing $40 billion in cuts to food stamps, and cutting off unemployment benefits to workers who can’t find jobs,” New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait explained.
This agenda — and its increasing cruelty and obliviousness to the shrinking deficit — will remain in place as long as President Obama or any Democrat is in the the White House.
Then on the day a Republican enters the Oval Office full of promises to restrain government and empower job creators, we can expect a repeat of the only strategy that the conservative movement has ever successfully employed to create jobs — growing massive deficits that make even more cruelty inevitable when a Democrat returns to power.
Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr