The Woody Allen school of rapid response
Criticizing statements out of Mitch McConnell's office almost doesn't seem worth the trouble, but his response to Barack Obama's call for $50 billion in further stimulus bordered on satire. "Democrats are showing either that they just don't get it on this issue of the debt, or that they just don't care," McConnell said. "Right now, among other challenges, we have a debt crisis, a jobs crisis, a housing crisis, a financial crisis, and an oil spill that the American people clearly don't believe government is effectively responding to."
As Woody Allen said, "This food is terrible! And such small portions!"
Implicit in McConnell's remarks is that the American people not only want, but deserve, a more effective government response to these crises. And though you can argue with the size of the Democrats' package, they're trying to give them one: State and local aid are crucial to preserving jobs and services, while direct help to small businesses is a sensible way to jump-start hiring. Doing either thing, however, requires a short-term jump in deficits.
McConnell's statement offers a nice sense of why it's so difficult to legislate against an irresponsible minority. It would be one thing for the leader of the Senate Republicans to say that deficit reduction was more important than job creation, and then the two sides could have that debate. It would be another thing for him to bring out an alternative jobs package that makes some modicum of sense, and the two sides could argue over that. But this is just an attack on anything the Democrats are doing that doesn't poll well, even if the the two things contradict. The public doesn't like debt and they don't like high unemployment, so McConnell hits both notes in an attack against a proposal to mitigate unemployment. It's effective politics, but it's not productive in the sense of forcing a policy synthesis Republicans find acceptable or hastening a solution to the underlying problems.
June 14, 2010; 9:40 AM ET
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