Commentary

A recovery that never arrived

The Washington PostFebruary 4, 2013 

The economy may or may not wind up in a technical recession, but the Obama economy never really made a recovery. Endemic low growth and high unemployment now define the U.S. economy – unless we chart another course.

Because it is politically uncomfortable to dwell on how awful the job market is (as Douglas Holtz-Eakin of the American Action Forum points out, the unemployment rate for underemployed and unemployed workers is stuck at 14.4 percent), liberal pundits continue to play along with the notions that the economy is getting better and that a surge in economic activity is right around the corner. But after years of this economic anemia, we know what we are really in is a trough in which economic activity is insufficient to push up employment, earnings and household wealth.

While President Obama and Democrats in Congress have given up on growth and jobs, Republicans should not.

Republicans need to examine every policy and explain every agenda item in terms of employment and economic growth. We need to do X because it will mean X number of jobs. (The Keystone XL pipeline, predicted to spur 20,000 jobs, is the best example.) We need to reduce the debt because once it gets to about 75 percent of gross domestic product, it halts growth.

It is the same on health care: We need to dump Obamacare in favor of an individual health care marketplace so that you can buy the insurance you want, employers aren’t crushed under the cost and weight of Obamacare and medical innovation can revive, bringing high-paying jobs to the United States.

Without changes in regulatory, tax, spending, health care and immigration policies, our economy will not revive. Republicans need to start explaining that we either are looking at a lost decade akin to Japan’s or a new, pro-growth agenda designed with one thing in mind: Get the job engine back.

It is remarkable that Democrats have been able to run from this issue. But it’s also shocking that Republicans have done so little with it.

The Washington Post

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