No One Knows What the Hell to Do About Jobs

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 4 2011 12:19 PM

No One Knows What the Hell to Do About Jobs

There are few uses of time more pointless than arguing with press releases, but I'm ready to waste some time. The Speaker of the House's press shop fires off another volley -- with a picture from The Never-Ending Story! -- making fun of how the White House keeps "pivoting to jobs" after crises.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

January 2011: MSNBC reported on the “quick jobs pivot,” noting that “the White House has quickly pivoted to jobs after the president’s State of the Union…” The president pivoted right back though, pushing a “spending the future” budget that would have tripled the national debt.
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As risible as "winning the future" is/was, it was also an attempt to reframe stimulative government spending -- which is to say, yes, it was about job creation.

April 2011: USA Today said President Obama “returns today to what he calls his top priority: jobs.” Instead, the White House repeated its demand for a debt limit increase without any spending cuts or reforms, focusing on its real top priority: spending and borrowing.

Right. Instead of one with cuts. Because the White House wanted more stimulus.

August 2011: President Obama now “promises action on jobs” (New York Times), and Democrats plan to “pivot to jobs” (Politico) and “pivot to jobs agenda” – even as they block energy production that would create jobs and help lower gas prices, attack American job creators like Boeing, and repeatedly demand tax hikes.

This is the point.. The White House's jobs agenda is always, always, a re-branding of stimulus spending. The GOP's "jobs agenda" is always a cocktail of plans they've already proposed, which are never about using government spending or intervention to create jobs, and always about deregulation. Check out the list of job-creating GOP bills -- half of them are about opening up new energy exploration or peeling back the post-BP oil spill limits on licensing. Good ideas! Just not representative of a surge of GOP jobs ideas.

The horrible truth is that Democrats are not being stopped from implementing ideas that will grow the economy at double-speed. Nor is it that Republicans are being stopped from unleashing bold new ideas that'll fix the housing or employment crises. The truth is that no one knows what to do in the short term.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.