June 5, 2012


Weak Economy Points to Obama's Constraints (JACKIE CALMES and NICHOLAS KULISH, June 2, 2012, NY Times)

Alan J. Auerbach, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, said, "Frankly, I don't see what President Obama can do right now other than to forcefully present a detailed plan for action and challenge Congress to take it up."

But "short of a real crisis," as in 2008, Mr. Auerbach, an expert on fiscal policy, added, "I doubt that there is anything he can do to spur meaningful legislation before the election."

Yet even in 2008, with the financial system near collapse, most Congressional Republicans rejected the rescue plan of a Republican president, George W. Bush. And now, despite their own record-low numbers in the polls, they have next to no incentive to help an embattled Democratic president lift the economy.

Continued economic anemia plays to Mr. Romney's call for new stewardship, and to Republicans' demands to extend and deepen the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans rather than let them expire, as Mr. Obama and Democrats want. And they figure that if Mr. Romney succeeds, it will probably help them win close House and Senate races, while Mr. Obama's re-election could do the opposite.

By emboldening Republicans, the report on Friday that the economy added only 69,000 jobs in May seemed to dash the hopes of some in the White House for a replay of 1996. That summer, as President Bill Clinton sought re-election with the economy improving, Republicans in Congress decided that their party's weak presidential nominee, Senator Bob Dole, was doomed. To Mr. Dole's chagrin, they compromised with the Democratic president to notch some significant achievements and ensure their own survival.

John Boehner ought to send the House home before his caucus can do any damage to the nominee.

Posted by at June 5, 2012 5:38 AM

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