Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Time For Specifics

This week may feel busier than usual - and not just because it's a shortened week for many Americans due to the Labor Day holiday. There's a lot going on this week, both politically and personally. Of course, the second of two GOP debate events this week is tonight - and the President's address to Congress on jobs is tomorrow.

Millions of American kids also returned to school this week, and those schools that began their semester before Labor Day are now truly digging into the material. They're getting down to details - and that's EXACTLY what every candidate at EVERY level should be thinking about right now.

As a former Capitol Hill staffer pointed out to a fellow journalist this week, the average voter doesn't care about specifics. An American voter who spends more than five minutes thinking about which Congressional candidate to vote for, is more thoughtful than most of his or her fellow citizens.

That doesn't negate the truth: to be better, to have a better nation, we must rise above the seductive simplicity of the five-minute, slogan-voting mindset.

That means getting specific, this week, about jobs.

To his credit, the jobs plan that Mitt Romney announced on Tuesday is more specific than anything that anyone else has put forward so far. In a 160-page booklet, Romney's plan calls for tax cuts of almost every tax you can think of, more oil and natural gas drilling, protectionist trade policies, and even deeper cuts to federal spending and federal aid to states. To his detriment, his jobs plan does NOTHING to solve the biggest single problem facing American businesses - the massive lack of demand at all levels.

Don't look to Rick Perry for better specifics.

Paul Osterman, an economist at the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management, recently proved this by examining, in depth, the supposed miracle of Texas job creation. Rick Perry may have created millions of jobs in Texas - but they are some of the worst paying jobs in the nation.

We'll have plenty of chances to hear the specifics from the GOP contenders tonight - and we certainly hope they'll actually provide some specifics on their jobs plans, instead of merely attacking President Obama or one another while mouthing talking points and platitudes.

The President himself will also have to give us more specifics than he has in many of his speeches over the last two and a half years. If Mr. Obama writes down his specific proposal, and presents that to Congress, there will be little chance for those who oppose him at every turn to say he isn't being specific enough. Sadly, though, we highly doubt that any proposal, no matter how specific, would satisfy a Republican Congress that is increasingly disrespectful to both Mr. Obama and the office of the President. Right now, even the psychological specifics say Republicans are likely to vote against ANYTHING President Obama suggests, simply because he's suggesting it.

Even the latest specific polling data backs this statement up. In category after category, by solid majorities and pluralities, Americans agree with the specific economic POLICIES President Obama continues to support.

What they don't support are the results of those policies so far - policies that have been specifically stymied and stopped by the Republican Congress.

The single biggest specific question that every candidate for President in 2012 needs to answer is this: If Congress stops you at every turn, how are you going to bypass them, and still get the work of the American people accomplished?

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