The Direction In Which We Are Moving
“The nation added 96,000 jobs in August, compared with a revised figure of 141,000 in July and well below the 125,000 level economists had expected. Over the last six months, job growth has averaged 97,000 a month, typically not enough to absorb new entrants to the labor force, let alone cut the unemployment rate significantly… the figures for August did not represent a drastic plunge in job creation from recent months — in June the economy created just 45,000 jobs… For August, the jobless rate did fall to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent in July.”
Nelson D. Scwhartz N Y Times 7 September 2012
Much commentary has followed this report. From Romney-Ryan and the Right Wingers the remarks have had a gleeful and gloating tone. From Obama-Biden and the Left the thrust has been explanatory or has emphasized the silver lining in this largely dark-cloud report. This reflects an all too common phenomenon in American political discourse if the clamor today can even be called discourse.
As with quarterbacks in American football, presidents get excessive praise or blame for almost every political trend and event. A basic understanding and appreciation of the Republic ordained and established by the Constitution reveals the absurdity of the media and popular adulation of the presidency and the occupants of that office. The first branch of the tripartite American Republic is the Congress. Congress has the sole power to legislate for the United States. Under the non-delegation doctrine, It must not delegate or abdicate its lawmaking responsibilities to any other branch, office, or agency. For example, the Supreme Court held in the 1998 case Clinton v. City of New York that Congress could not delegate a “line-item veto” to the President, by powers vested in the government by the Constitution. Therefore, a president proposes, but Congress disposes. This is relevant in the case of the American Jobs Act.
Executive power is vested, with exceptions and qualifications, in the President. By law (Section 2.) the president becomes the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, Militia of several states when called into service, has power to make treaties and appointments to office — “…with the Advice and Consent of the Senate”– receive Ambassadors and Public Ministers, and “…take care that the laws be faithfully executed” (Section 3.) By using these words, the Constitution does not require the president to personally enforce the law; rather, officers subordinate to the president may perform such duties. The Constitution empowers the president to ensure the faithful execution of the laws made by Congress. Congress may itself terminate such appointments, by impeachment, and restrict the president. The presidential responsibility is to execute whatever instructions are forthcoming from the Congress. Bodies such as the War Claims Commission, the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Federal Trade Commission— all quasi-judicial often have direct Congressional oversight.
So much of the public has an utter misconception of how the Republic is required by the Constitution to function. The media reinforces this misunderstanding and makes matters worse because it is so much simpler to obsess over the single person in the presidency than it is to report cogently on the 435 people in Congress and the multitudinous actions and errors of this often squabbling and self-serving horde.
Government and responsive, responsible governance are crucial to a just, free, united, and prosperous society. Citizens are right to feel and express displeasure when those elected to govern abdicate responsibility and/or subvert or sabotage the government in its operations. The Republican Party has been engaged in such abdication of responsibility and subversion or sabotage of effective governance since the inauguration of Barack Obama. As a wise political leader has recently declared, “It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did.”
While it is politic to aver both sides are to blame, it is not true and has not been true for between fifteen and thirty years. The Democratic Party with all its flaws and foibles has never lost confidence in government as an engine for good nor have they sought and gained office under false pretenses. The Republican Party has deemed “government the problem” and vowed to starve the beast and drown it in a bathtub. These are not simply rhetorical differences. Repeatedly over three decades they have been demonstrated in the actions of the two parties. Since the inauguration of Barack Obama, the Republican Party has dropped all subtly and eschewed any tact. They have declared their intentions to abdicate and abandon governance or impede and impair the operation of government. This is well documented and indisputable by rational argument or sound evidence. Too many will reject this truth because they think evidence is irrelevant or truth conforms to one’s wishes and fervent desires. They are mistaken and truth matters more than one’s passionate, though unfounded, convictions.
In order for the Republic to operate effectively three centers of power must cooperate, agree upon a course of action and enact and enforce this agreed upon course. The two chambers of Congress, the House and the Senate, must craft and approve the exactly identical legislation and the President must approve it. At times a fourth power center becomes involved if the passed and signed legislation is challenged before the Supreme Court. If any of these power centers refuse to focus on solutions rather than the quest for partisan advantage, the Republic is paralyzed or at least enfeebled. Especially during the 112th Congress, the Republican controlled House has been functioned like a tantrum throwing toddler and done nothing but obstruct the lawmaking process. The Republican minority in the Senate has generally reinforced this obstructionism by insisting on sixty votes for due consideration and needed action on almost every matter. The records document this and history will relate extraordinarily persistent and pervasive Republican obstruction during the 112th Congress. Despite the outraged declaration of one know-nothing in regards to this demonstrable fact, “where did you get this hyper-partisan sh*t” evidence is not partisan and no amount of vitriol will make it so. The truth matters.
Given the importance of truth, the citizenry must face the reality that the Republicans in Congress bear the lion’s share of the blame for feeble or no action to ameliorate unemployment since 2009 onward. “On September 8, 2011 — one year ago tomorrow — President Obama laid out a series of policy proposals known collectively as the American Jobs Act. The plan included stimulus spending in the form of immediate infrastructure investments, tax credits for working Americans and employers to encourage consumer spending and job growth, and efforts to shore up state and local budgets to prevent further layoffs of teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other public safety officials.”
“One month later, the GOP blocked the bill in the Senate, preventing the creation of more than a million jobs and the added growth that multiple economists predicted would occur if the bill passed:
–Moody’s Analytics estimated the American Jobs Act would create 1.9 million jobs and add two percent to gross domestic product.
–The Economic Policy Institute estimated it would create 2.6 million jobs and protect an additional 1.6 million existing jobs.
–Macroeconomic Advisers predicted it would create 2.1 million jobs and boost GDP by 1.5 percent.
–Goldman Sachs estimated it would add 1.5 percent to GDP.”
Despite the outright sabotage of Republicans in Congress for the good of their party at the expense of the American economy, progress on the jobs front has continued. In August 2012, 96,000 jobs were added in the private sector. Jobs growth could have been faster, but the public sector lost 7,000 jobs in August, adding to the more 700,000 it has lost since 2009. That includes hundreds of thousands of teachers and educators, firefighters, and police officers. These crucial jobs have been lost because of Republican refusal to properly support state and local governments with needed funds. Had the public sector spent the last three years growing at its previous rate, unemployment would be at least a full point lower than it is now.
The American Jobs Act and policies like it would have unquestionably boosted job numbers and economic growth. This starkly contrasts to the tax-cutting policies put forth by congressional Republicans, whose “job creation” bills are such in name only and would have actually destroyed thousands of jobs. Republicans persist in ignoring economists, basic economics, a our country’s historic experience preferring to push utterly discredited supply-side tax policies that have a track record of repeatedly failing to boost economic growth and employment.
While the American electorate now seems split into two warring camps with a great deal of closed-mindedness and mean-spiritedness building and maintaining barriers to candid communication and rational consideration of facts, this impasse must be overcome. Given the emotional anxiety about the economy and employment, disastrously erroneous voting decisions may be made by deplorably ill-informed or willfully ignorant voters who vote against their true economic interests.
As President Obama said in Charlotte, NC on September 6, 2012, “The truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades. It will require common effort, shared responsibility and the kind of bold, persistent experimentation that Franklin Roosevelt pursued during the only crisis worse than this one.”
For thirty straight months, the private sector has achieved job growth. While the pace of employment gains has not been anywhere near as swift as all people of goodwill desire, the direction has been resolutely positive. In this regard, we need to understand and remember this bit of wise advice: “The great thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving.”
–Oliver Wendell Holmes, Senior
Under the leadership of President Obama, we are and have been for some time moving in the right direction. If we are attuned to reality and moved by facts, we will re-elect President Obama and continue to go Forward.
Tags: abdication, citizenship, Congress, Democrats, election, evidence, governance, Government, House, ignorance, Jobs Report, Larry Conley, obstrution, President, Republican, Sabotage, Senate, separation of powers, Truth, voting