Politics & Media
May 09, 2013, 07:46AM

Why the GOP Isn't Talking About the Economy

The Party doesn’t care about the poor.

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Washington is not sufficiently focused on jobs. That appears to be the conventional wisdom, and Daniel Henninger did his part to mindlessly advance that notion in today's Wall Street Journal. Rather than blaming Obama for failing to talk jobs, jobs, jobs, Henninger runs a variation, sneering at Congressional Republicans for getting distracted by immigration when they should be doing… something. And, oh yeah, educating America's youth as to why conservatism will give them jobs. Somehow or other. Or as Henninger puts it in his mealy-mouthed close:

None of these voting blocs will default to the GOP in two years or four years. Denunciations of "government" won't win them over. How the jobs catastrophe has happened to this generation requires extended Economy 101 tutorials from smart conservative candidates, if they know how.
America's unemployed need condescending schooling in their best interests by candidates gorged on donations from the Wall Street scumbags who got us into this mess in the first place. That'll work, I'm sure.

You know why the President and Congress aren't talking about jobs? Because they can't do anything about jobs. Partially that's because affecting the economy is complicated and difficult and hard to do at the best of times. Mostly, though, it's because the Republican Party is completely uninterested in the economic fortunes of those without massive wealth—as opposed to the Democratic Party, which is just mostly uninterested. So the Republicans, in the midst of a hideous economic downturn caused by moronic plutocrats in the financial sector, are concerned mostly with preventing financial regulation, stonewalling a rise in taxes on the wealthy, and shrinking government. The last of which, in case you didn't notice, puts government workers out of jobs, and increases unemployment. It doesn't decrease it.

In short, there's one simple reason why the GOP appears not to care about the poor. It's not messaging. It's not missed opportunities. It's not an accident. It's because they really don’t give a shit. I'm sure they wouldn't mind getting more votes from poor people if they could do it without actually having to address their needs or policy preferences—thus Henninger's hopeful, stupid, insulting call for free market indoctrination. But for the most part, the government isn't doing anything about jobs because the government, and the GOP especially, don’t get massive donations from poor people. And if you're not bribing public officials on a regular basis, then, in our great republic, your job is to sit there and be screwed.

  • Noah, in your zeal to pit the entire Republican Party as tools of "plutocrats," you've entirely misrepresented Henninger's column. Henninger lambasted the Nativist wing of the GOP for focusing on derailing meaningful immigration reform rather than taking the opportunity to reach out to frustrated unemployed Americans, particularly the young Millennials. Is it true that the President and Congress can't do anything about the lack of jobs? Recessions aren't a 21st century invention; Reagan inherited a "lost" economic decade and unemployment went down. As did Clinton. Obama's not doing much of anything, which is Henninger's political point; the GOP is squandering an opportunity.

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  • Likewise Russ (I agree Noah goes overboard), your zeal to pit the entire Obama administration as lazy misrepresents reality and betrays your reactionary side. Both Reagan and Clinton had oppositions who were willing to do more than just obstruct (Not that either didn't do more than there fair share of obstruction Newt, Tip O. and Kennedy come to mind).Neither party is behaving responsibly these days. Agree or not with Obama, he has accomplished an aweful lot in such partisan times. Jobs: over a 2.5% drop in unemployment = a 25% decline in unemployment over 3.5 years (I'm starting at the trough of a rapid and Chaotic downturn. Could more be done? Certainly Have the repubs been helpful, of course not. Unlike Noah, I think it is less evil i.e. repubs hate poor folk than strategic (repubs are trying to recover from losing their perch on foreign policy under Bush by retarding any recovery/domestic strength Dems were perceived to have on economic/domestic policy)). Domestic: healthcare and gay civil rights (plus bad stuff like the cramming down of pensioners through GM A Fed chairman whose policies have created the current bubble we are in etc.) Foreign: Ended Iraq; ending Afghanistan war; getting Osama (too many secrets and misteps and half-measures like drones, Egypt, Israel etc.) Either way, you both come off as a bit too extreme. Obama has accomplished a fair amount and not all of it is good. Republicans have obstructed a lot but not everything they do has an evil motive.

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  • Hey Russ. That's not what I got from Henninger's column. He didn't seem to be anti-nativist; he just seemed to think there shouldn't be a focus on immigration at all, by either pro or anti immigration folks. And he's blaming the GOP for not taking advantage of Obama doing nothing — which ignores the fact that Obama isn't doing anything because the GOP won't let him, and they won't let him because they don't give a crap about whether or not poor people are suffering. I have serious problems with Obama... but Reagan and Clinton certainly weren't any better. Neither had anything like the economic recession Obama's faced, and neither had an opposition as utterly round the bend as the current GOP. Oh, and it's not just republicans who are tools of plutocrats by any means. Democrats are too. Slightly less so, but not enough to matter much to all the Americans who are out of work at the moment.

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  • Noah, I suspect you have little truck with the WSJ's edit page. But going back as far as I remember reading the paper—way pre-Murdoch—maybe when I was 15 or so, WJS has ALWAYS been pro-immigration. Henninger's a Journal lifer, a free market conservative who has a history of supporting immigration. Look at his last line, "Let's back to the battle of the Rio Grande," spoofing Nativists, and you can see what his view is. As for letting Obama off the hook because the GOP won't "let him" do anything, that's making excuses. Clinton, after the Dems got wiped out in '94, worked with a Republican Congress, both houses, and made deals. Obama just doesn't want to get down and dirty; it's above him. Finally, it's a rash generalization to say that the GOP, as a whole, doesn't give a crap about poor people.

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  • I'm sure the WSJ is pro-immigration. I just don't think it's the main focus of that piece. If you can provide any evidence that the GOP cares about poor people even a little bit, I'd be interested to hear it.

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  • I'm late to this, and probably in the middle between you two, which is typical of the polarized politics of this century. I can't think of any GOP measures to specifically help the poor, although I do believe that immigration falls into that category. On the other hand, I don't see Democrats helping the poor, either. Yes, the health care act, if anyone really can understand that far-too-complex legislation.

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