Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Communication Failure Will Cost Dems Next Week

If the latest polls are any indication, Republicans stand a good chance of recapturing Congress next week, not to mention a majority of governorships and state legislatures across the country. Republican voters are as enthusiastic as ever, thanks in no small part to the emergence of the Tea Party movement, which has upended the political establishment and placed several once-secure Democratic incumbents in electoral jeopardy.

The Tea Party anger, of course, is directed almost entirely at the Obama administration. The renegade candidates vying for House and Senate seats have uniformly condemned the president for ratcheting up government spending and failing to pull the country out of its crippling recession.

The fact that Republicans held both chambers of Congress – not to mention the presidency – in the years leading up to the current recession, fails to interest Tea Party candidates or the angry Americans who have pledged their loyalty for Nov. 2. Voters don’t seem inclined to analytical postmortems. They’re disillusioned and fed up with the federal government. As the supporters of New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino like to say, in a line taken from the 1976 movie “Network,” “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.”

In many ways, this anger is justified. The national unemployment rate stands at 9.2 percent, and U.S. debt is growing at its fastest rate in 60 years. All Americans should be concerned about rising joblessness and unsustainable government spending. Voting in new Republican majorities in the House and Senate, however, is not going to solve our economic problems. In fact, there’s a good chance it will make them worse.

It’s easy to discern from the Tea Party candidates’ rhetoric what they don’t want. They don’t want universal health care. They don’t want government-sponsored “bailouts” of banks and auto companies. But these arguments ignore the role that these issues play in controlling the national debt and jumpstarting the economy. According to a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, President Obama’s stimulus bill saved or created as many as 3.3 million jobs during the second quarter of this year. And the consensus among economists is that without the now widely scorned Toxic Asset Relief Program and emergency injections of capital into American banks in 2008, the economy would have plunged into a depression.

Was the stimulus bill perfect? Certainly not. But its primary flaw, as Paul Krugman pointed out in The New York Times this week, was that it did too little, not too much

On the health care front, Tea Partiers have argued that Obama’s signature bill extending coverage to all Americans is another example of the administration’s fiscal irresponsibility. But the Congressional Budget Office reported last year that the law would cut the federal deficit by $118 billion over 10 years.

The conventional wisdom in Washington has been that Democrats owe their current plight to Obama’s failure to highlight his own accomplishments. The president himself has acknowledged as much. “Given how much stuff was coming at us, we probably spent much more time trying to get the policy right rather than trying to get the politics right,” Obama told Peter Baker, a reporter for The New York Times, earlier this month.

But part of governing is communicating effectively – making the case for your agenda. It’s amazing that the candidate who was able to speak so resoundingly to Americans during the election of 2008 has failed so spectacularly to champion his policies as president.

Obama’s lackluster performance in spelling out the urgency of health care and financial regulatory reform to the American public will surely cost Democrats next week. If Obama hopes to win re-election in 2012, he would do well to take his party’s distress as a wakeup call.

Peter Fulham is a sophomore in the College. He can be reached at POTOMAC VIEWS appears every other Friday.”

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