Since Congress returned from its spring recess, House Republicans have gone to almost comical lengths to focus on discredited "scandals." GOP lawmakers have created a new special Benghazi committee; they battled each other for slots on the investigatory panel; they've voted to hold a former IRS official in contempt; and they've talked to the media an awful lot about both "controversies."
And so it was rather amusing to listen to the Republican Party's weekly address over the weekend, in which GOP officials demanded to know why those rascally Democrats won't follow Republicans' lead and focus on job creation.
A chorus of Republican House members touted bills they've passed that have stalled in the Senate to argue the GOP is the party looking to create jobs. "Nothing is more important than preserving the American Dream for our kids and grandkids," Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) said in the Republican weekly address Saturday. "That's why Republicans are relentlessly focused on building a strong economy that produces good jobs and lasting opportunities." ... The Michigan lawmaker urged Obama to step up and match the House's focus on the economy. "Americans are still waiting for President Obama and Senate Democrats to act," he said.
The entirety of the party's weekly address, which in this case featured comments from 14 different House members, is available online here.
The striking disconnect -- Republicans ignoring job creation while whining about Democrats ignoring job creation -- helps underscore a problem for which there is no easy solution. On the one hand, GOP officials have decided made-up scandals and discredited conspiracy theories are vital to generating excitement (and campaign contributions) among their core supporters.
On the other hand, the American mainstream doesn't much care about made-up scandals and discredited conspiracy theories. For voters outside the Republican base, the economy and jobs remain the top priority.
This has led Republicans on Capitol Hill to embrace an awkward dance: invest all of their time and energy into Benghazi and the absurd IRS story, while simultaneously pretending they're focusing primarily on job creation. In other words, they want to ignore jobs and accuse Dems of ignoring jobs at the same time.
A great example of this came up last week when the House GOP leadership held a press conference in which members initially tried to pay lip-service to the issue voters care about. "I hosted my fifth-annual jobs fair," Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan. ) told reporters. "Today I wanted to talk more about jobs," added Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.).
They then quickly pivoted to Benghazi, and soon after headed to the House floor, where they all voted to hold Lois Lerner in contempt.
To be sure, if Republicans wanted to actually focus on jobs, it would be a pleasant change of pace, and in all likelihood, congressional Democrats and the White House would be thrilled. It was, after all, Dems who championed the American Jobs Act, nearly all of which GOP lawmakers promptly killed, despite independent estimates that the proposed package would create over 1 million jobs.
At this point, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his allies are likely shouting, "But House Republicans passed 40 jobs bills that Democrats refuse to consider!" This is a familiar talking point, which also happens to be wrong.
As we've discussed before, Boehner has decided that every time the House passes a bill that advances Republican priorities, the party is justified in labeling it a "jobs bill." The GOP approved more oil drilling? That's a "jobs bill." The GOP voted to take away health care benefits from millions of Americans? That's a "jobs bill," too. The GOP disapproves of clean-air regulations? "Jobs bill." The GOP wants more "transparency" in federal spending? "Jobs bill." Republicans cut food stamps? "Jobs bill."
What about extended unemployment benefits, which would create roughly 200,000 jobs this year? The House GOP refuses to even allow a vote on it.
Let's make this very simple for everyone involved: if House Republicans are sincere about focusing on job creation, they can (a) give up the witch hunts that they know to be ridiculous; (b) put together a serious jobs package; (c) subject it to independent scrutiny to determine how many jobs the package would create and at what cost; and (d) invite Democrats to the table for talks.
Until then, the propaganda is just noise.