Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said congressional compromise could be the key to turning everything around. “If they could signal that they would be willing to work together to do something substantive and helpful, it could ease the collective psyche and help soothe nerves,” he said.
Despite the divisiveness that permeates political discourse these days, there is one thing nearly every American seems to agree on: fixing the economy needs to be priority No. 1.
Yet, how best to go about attaining a brighter economic future for America is the subject of intense debate. And, unless one has an advanced degree in economics, figuring out who is correct can be a daunting task.
President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney both made campaign stops in the crucial swing state of Ohio June 15, and each again explained his own plan for putting the U.S. on firmer financial footing.
According to Romney, the answer is to cut taxes and repeal health care as well as financial and energy regulations. He also calls for massive spending cuts for programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Meanwhile, he wants to dramatically increase defense spending.
Obama believes the solution is to end the Bush-era tax cuts for families making more than $250,000 a year and eliminate oil-industry tax breaks. He also concedes entitlement reform is needed, but says that it can be done in a less drastic way in order to keep essential safety-net services. And rather than increase defense spending, Obama says the Pentagon budget also must be subject to cuts.
So whose plan offers the best hope for the country? Even some economists admit they are having trouble deciding.
“Our economy is too complex, too complicated. No one knows for sure what the right answer is,” Sung Won Sohn, a California State University economics professor, told the Associated Press. “Economists are the first ones to admit we’ve been wrong many, many times.”
Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said congressional compromise could be the key to turning everything around.
“If they could signal that they would be willing to work together to do something substantive and helpful, it could ease the collective psyche and help soothe nerves,” he said.
Given the climate in Congress, however, that seems highly unlikely as things stand now. Obama used his weekly radio address on June 16 to again call on lawmakers to put polarizing politics aside and work together to create much-needed jobs.
He also referenced a comment made by a leading Republican indicating the GOP is willing to wait until after the election to take action on fiscal legislation in order to bolster its chances of making gains in November.
“Why not wait for the reinforcements?” asked Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“I think that’s wrong,” Obama said. “This isn’t about who wins or loses in Washington. This is about your jobs, your paychecks, your children’s future. There’s no excuse for Congress to stand by and do nothing while so many families are struggling. None.”
Democrats aren’t the only ones calling for change within the current Republican Party leadership. Former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-WY, co-chair of Obama’s Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, said that type of partisan mentality is prevalent in his party these days.
“I guess I’m known as a RINO now, which means a Republican in name only, because, I guess, of social views, perhaps –– or common sense would be another one which seems to escape members of our party,” Simpson said on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” May 27. “For heaven’s sake, you have Grover Norquist wandering the earth in his white robes saying that if you raise taxes one penny, he’ll defeat you. He can’t murder you. He can’t burn your house. The only thing he can do to you, as an elected official, is defeat you for re-election. And if that means more to you than your country when we need patriots to come out in a situation when we’re in extremity, you shouldn’t even be in Congress.”
City editor Amy Gehrt may be reached at email@example.com.