Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Weekly Strike-7/6-7/11

Good morning and welcome to the Weekly Strike. It's sweltering in DC, and lucky for them, members of Congress are out of town. Even if they were here, they'd be better off than the unemployed people at whom they've thumbed their noses.

THE WHITE HOUSE: After a quiet holiday weekend, the White House gets back in gear today as President Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Obama and Bibi (as he's affectionately known) haven't been on the best of terms. Obama met with the Prime Minister at a terse meeting in May, in which the press was not allowed to take pictures (some sign of sacrilege apparently). The administration was rightly angry that Netanyahu authorized the building of new settlements in East Jerusalem. Both men will use this meeting as a chance to restart diplomatic relations.

If Netanyahu were a smart, rational person, which doesn't seem to be his strong suit, he would help President Obama push for a land-for-peace agreement with the Palestinian people. He would also assure the U.S. leadership that Israel was properly concerned with the human rights situation in the Gaza Strip. Unfortunately, I don't really see this happening.

The rest of the President's schedule this week is unknown, but I would be pretty shocked if he didn't give a speech on the economy given last week's poor jobs report.

CONGRESS: Speaking of jobs, Congress takes the week off having done absolutely nothing to alleviate the jobs crisis in America. Last week's jobs report, which showed minuscule growth in private sector employment, hasn't seemed to get the attention of enough members of Congress. Most Republicans are intent to block action on any and all jobs measures, ostensibly because they care about the deficit, but more realistically because they think it is politically advantageous to them. Conservative Democrats concerned about our fiscal health have shown very little interest in even the slightest measures to alleviate the pain and suffering of the unemployed. They are preventing Congress from taking any action whatsoever.

If people didn't already realize that the jobs situation was an absolute crisis, they should now. This is what needs to be done in the short-term:

-President Obama needs to put on a Bush, Iraq-war style political campaign for a jobs relief package that includes primarily aid to state and local governments and an extension of unemployment benefits. This campaign must involve a whirlwind tour of speeches, expressing the urgency of the situation, and branding this bill as the best solution.

-In exchange for the votes of Blue Dog Democrats, Obama should package this deal with future cuts to the deficit (to take place three or four years down the line). These cuts should be a combination of progressive tax increases, and spending cuts to defense and non-essential mandatory spending.

-The leaders of the House and Senate should hold votes on this measure as soon as possible, even if they don't have the votes to pass it. No backroom negotiations, no deals...just see where everyone stands. If the vote fails, leaders should move on to Plan B:

-The House and the Senate could pass a budget resolution that contains reconciliation instructions for a jobs bill. With these instructions, the bill could pass the House and Senate on a simple majority vote, and be signed into law as soon as possible. Democrats could take comfort knowing that this spending would inject demand into the economy immediately.

This, of course, won't happen for a variety of reasons. But I just wanted to show how easy it COULD be if Democratic leaders gave as much care and concern to the jobs situation as is currently warranted. More likely, we'll see pretty much nothing done before the November elections. If the economy, as expected, continues to flutter along with minimal job gains, Democrats will suffer absolutely massive losses in November.

That's it for now, I'll see you tonight.

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