As a quasi-preview to tomorrow’s April jobs report, National Journal provocatively asks: “Has Washington Given Up on the Economy?”
Basically, the story is trying to ding President Obama and Republicans — mostly the latter — for being too focused on debt cutting:
It seems like ages since the passionate, months-long presidential campaign fought largely over how to help the middle class and rev up job creation. Since then, Congress has allowed across-the-board budget cuts that are creating across-the-board hardships and shrinking the gross domestic product. House Republicans have proposed a budget that decimates the federal government. Obama gave a State of the Union address about how he would build the economy, but he hasn’t sustained that focus. He held a press conference this week that made a lot of news, none of it related to what probably will be a disappointing April jobs report Friday.
1. The big GOP focus this year has been the sequester and a balanced-budget plan. Neither is growthy in the short run. Thankfully the Fed is offsetting through monetary policy. Where is the jobs and take-home pay agenda, especially for the long-term unemployed?
2. Obama, the piece explains, has put out “a number of constructive if less sweeping ideas, including universal preschool, a better tax code, a revamped immigration system, more manufacturing and an upgraded infrastructure. All would stoke economic growth and need to be framed in those terms.”
Would pre-K really “stoke” economic growth? And what about the Obama tax hikes already passed and the ones the president still wants? Would those “stoke” growth, too? C’mon.
3. Again, let me cite this passage from Obama’s recently budget plan: “In the 21st Century, real GDP growth in the United States is likely to be permanently slower than it was in earlier eras because of a slowdown in labor force growth initially due to the retirement of the post-World War II baby boom generation, and later due to a decline in the growth of the working age population.” And if that isn’t bad enough, there are worrisome signs of a productivity slowdown and a less entrepreneurial culture.
I am alarmed by this. I don’t see that Washington is alarmed. So maybe the politicians have given up on the economy.