Romney and Obama: Both campaigns lack bold proposals on jobs and the economy

Have you noticed a lack of big ideas coming from both campaigns when it comes to the economy? Both the Obama and Romney camps are playing it safe. Neither campaign is offering any bold proposals to get the economy going, and instead are relying on a minefield of negative ads telling us why the other guy is worse for the economy.

To be fair to President Obama, he does face a House of Representatives that is not only unwilling to work with him on job creation, they are outright hostile towards anything he touches. The last serious big idea from the White House on job creation came last September when they introduced the American Jobs Act. We know it was congress that failed to move on that proposal, and the White House decided that was its last big proposal going into election season. So now the Obama campaign is in full-swing anti-Romney mode, hoping that will be enough to get Barack Obama reelected for a second term.

On the other side, Mitt Romney has genuinely crafted his campaign as the “anti-Obama” campaign. He has completely abandoned the idea of running on his record as governor of Massachusetts. As for his record in the private sector, let’s just say a Wall Street guy running on a platform of job creation is going to receive a tepid response at best, regardless of the Bain Capital attacks from the Obama campaign.

The worst economy since the Great Depression and you might think at least one of the candidates would come up with a few big ideas for how to get us out of it.

But you’d be wrong. Neither candidate wants to take any chances by offering any large, serious proposals. Both are banking instead on negative campaigns that convince voters the other guy would be worse.


The President could propose a new WPA, modeled after the Depression-era jobs program that hired hundreds of thousands of jobless Americans to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, or a new Civilian Conservation Corps.

He could suggest permanently exempting the first $25,000 of income from payroll taxes, and making up the lost revenues by eliminating the ceiling on income subject to it. He could propose resurrecting the Glass-Steagall Act and breaking up the big banks, so Wall Street doesn’t cause another financial collapse.


Mitt Romney is playing it even more cautiously. His economic plan is really a non-plan: more tax cuts for the rich, undefined spending cuts, and no details about how he’d bring down the budget deficit. No presidential candidate since Herbert Hoover in 1928 has been more vague about what he’d do on the critical issues facing the nation.

Romney’s advisors assume Obama can’t possibly be reelected with the economy this bad. Just 44 percent of registered voters in a Washington Post-ABC News poll earlier this month approve of the job the president is doing on the economy, while 54 percent disapprove. Even more encouraging for Romney is that 41 percent of those polled “strongly” disapproved of Obama’s economic performance, while just 21 percent “strongly” approved — an enthusiasm gap of major proportion.

So Romney’s advisors have concluded that all Romney has to do between now and Election Day is avoid a mistake that might give Obama and the Democrats something to shoot at.

– Robert Reich: The Terrible Economy and the Anti-Election of 2012

Reich is correct as usual. I know it goes against everything that Republicans have drilled into our heads, everything that they want you to believe is common wisdom, but we need spend our way out of this bad economy. This is what we have done in the past. The fact that we have allowed well over half a million public sector workers to lose their jobs is appalling. How does that help the economy? Hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs at a time when we should be propping up the public sector while we try to grow the private sector. It makes no sense to allow states and local governments to layoff workers who will then be collecting unemployment and contributing less to the economy until such time they can find a job. I can’t imagine you are going to find any unbiased economist who would tell you that makes sense.

Some of Reich’s ideas are at least worth trying like WPA, where the government directly hires people who are out of work for jobs that help fix and improve our ailing infrastructure. Just in the past week Philadelphia has had two major water main breaks, one of which is nearly a century old. We know the infrastructure of this country (water mains, sewer lines, bridges, roads, highways, rail, etc.) is in serious need of repair and modernizing. When are we going to get to work on that? Some time in the future? Why not now? Given how low interest rates are and how many people are out of work, can you think of any better time to get to work on improving America’s infrastructure? Why the hell can’t we get this done? Is this country really THAT broken that we can’t do things that make sense all because of ideology and politics?

The worst economy since the Great Depression, but we’re in an anti-election that will make it harder for the next occupant of the oval office to do a thing about it.

EconomyElection 2012

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