For those hoping to see the American economy succeed, there are a lot of reasons to smile this morning. Economic growth is at an 11-year high. Job growth is at a 15-year high. The stock market is soaring. Wages are rising. Gas prices are plummeting. American manufacturing is improving. The uninsured rate is dropping.
President Obama is boasting about “America’s resurgence,” and in a twist, the public may be starting to believe him.
And this got me thinking: what’s the Republican response to all of this?
As we discussed earlier, GOP officials have been heavily invested in a simple proposition: the combination of the Affordable Care Act, federal regulations, Dodd-Frank reforms, and higher taxes approved last year are a brutal “wet blanket” on economic growth. Obama’s entire agenda has been a disaster for the economy, they argue, and if we want conditions to improve, we’ll have to do the exact opposite of what the White House has done.
So, what’s the Republican reaction to the latest GDP numbers, for example?
Note, I don’t mean “nothing” in a colloquial sense, as if they issued press releases that struck me as vapid and meaningless. Rather, I mean “nothing” in a literal sense. I went to the homepages for John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, the RNC, the NRSC, the NRCC, and the RGA. Collectively, they didn’t publish a single word about the striking economic growth.
So, I moved on to Twitter, checking the feeds for Boehner, McConnell, Reince Priebus, the RNC, the NRSC, the NRCC, and the RGA. Again, literally nothing.
Sure, it’s a couple of days before Christmas, so it’s easy to imagine a lot of staffers are away from the office today, but here’s the thing: Republicans are publishing on other topics of interest. They’re just choosing to ignore the strongest economic growth in 11 years.
And I suppose that’s understandable. If I’m John Boehner this morning, I’m not sure what I’d say, either. “Where are the jobs?” obviously isn’t a credible option, and neither is “Obamacare is preventing economic growth.” Republicans have made a series of assumptions about economic policy in recent years, and just like the Clinton and Bush eras, all of those assumptions have turned out to be wrong.
So in this sense, their eerie silence is hardly a surprise. But it’s also unsustainable – as Obama walks with a spring in his step and takes credit for an economic “resurgence,” Republicans aren’t exactly in a position to change the subject (as if they have a subject they’d prefer to talk about right now).
And if the current trends continue – a big “if,” to be sure – Paul Waldman argues persuasively this morning that “it’ll be somewhere between difficult and impossible for a Republican to win the White House in 2016, since the state of the economy swamps every other issue in presidential campaigns.”
What the GOP apparently needs right now is an economic message. At least as of now, that message does not appear to exist at all.