|Threat Level: Orange.|
Are Republican lawmakers deliberately stalling the economic recovery to hurt President Barack Obama's re-election chances? Some top Democrats say yes, pointing to GOP stances on the debt limit and other issues that they claim are causing unnecessary economic anxiety and retarding growth.
The latest Democratic complaint came after House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday that when Congress raises the nation's borrowing cap in early 2013, he will again insist on big spending cuts to offset the increase. Boehner, R-Ohio, continues to reject higher tax rates, which Democrats demand from the wealthy.
That led Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to say Boehner is virtually assuring another debt-ceiling crisis as bad or worse than the one that shook financial markets nine months ago.
"The last thing the country needs is a rerun of last summer's debacle that nearly brought down our economy," Schumer said in a statement. In an interview, Schumer added: "I hope that the speaker is not doing this because he doesn't want to see the economy improve, because what he said will certainly rattle the markets."
Boehner responded in a statement: "Republicans have passed nearly 30 bills that would help small businesses create jobs and we are waiting on Senate Democrats to vote on these common-sense measures. The failure to act on these jobs bills, as well as our crushing debt burden, is undermining economic growth and job creation."
Democrats say Republicans loaded their jobs bills with provisions certain to doom them in the Senate, such as restrictions on unions and on regulatory agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency.
Regardless of whether Schumer's suspicions are right, there's evidence that unceasing partisan gridlock and the prospect of big tax increases and spending cuts in January are causing some companies to postpone expansions. Even small economic slowdowns are bad news for Obama, who is seeking re-election amid high unemployment.
I think there is virtually NO doubt that the Republicans are going to drag their feet on, or even openly sabotage, any attempts to improve this economy before the election in 2012.
They literally have no other platform to run on other than the idea that this President cannot bring jobs back, or improve the average American's quality of life, and sadly they are in a potion to make that a reality.
Then it just becomes a game of who can frame the debate over whose responsible for this failure the best.
The Republicans will say that this is due to President Obama's lack of experience and "anti-business" policies, and the Democrats will point out that the Republicans have spent virtually no time attempting to push through legislation to improve job growth, and have instead focused on taking away woman's rights, fighting the Affordable Care Act, and undermining the President's efforts to revitalize the economy. And even though we progressive have proof for our side of the argument, it may not matter, because of the Citizen's United ruling, which will allow wealthy SuperPACs to spend unlimited amounts of money, will give the GOP the edge in getting THEIR version of reality into the living rooms of the barely attentive voters.
But the TRULY sad thing is that this next election will solve nothing if the Republicans retain control of the House, or gain control of the Senate as well. Then we will see four more years of total gridlock while the country suffers and the GOP points their fingers of blame at the black man in the White House.
Like I said before, we are in the middle of a hostage situation. And the key to our shackles lies in our ability to elect enough Democrats to take back the House and retain the Senate. THEN my friends we will start to finally see progress.