In 2008, after eight years of George W. Bush’s brand of economics pulled the country into a deep recession, a Republican couldn’t have been elected White House dog catcher, much less president.
It didn’t matter what was proposed as an alternative. Voters had reached the point where they believed anything and anyone Democratic had to be better than anyone from the GOP.
With the stagnant economy, especially on the jobs front, the electorate is starting to forget how miserable things were four years ago and change may once again be in the air.
A new poll shows that Americans are giving Republican Mitt Romney a slight edge over President Obama on the handling of the economy.
The problem with that scenario, though, is Romney’s plan to right the economy is the same thing that Congressional Republicans are pushing.
He has said he would cut taxes on workers and businesses, but not how he would pay for them. He has promised to cut federal spending, advocating $500 billion in cuts across the board in 2016, “assuming robust economic recovery with 4 percent annual growth, and reversal of irresponsible Obama-era defense cuts.”
In addition, Romney wants to eliminate economic regulations, extend the timetables for meeting environmental deadlines for corporations, help states that want to strengthen right-to-work rules and make it more difficult for unions to operate, open new trade markets following a model established by former President Ronald Reagan and create more retraining programs for the unemployed, run by the private sector.
But it won’t all happen right away.
“What I describe in my plan is a series of changes to programs and elimination of programs which save more and more money over time, so we’re able to get America to a balanced budget in eight to 10 years —not in the first year—but eight to 10 years,” Romney told The Wall Street Journal.
“You’re going to see the growth in the economy pick up at 4 percent or better and you’re going to get America, within four years, to about a 6 percent unemployment rate. And after that I see it getting better and better.”
When Obama was inaugurated, he admitted it might take more than four years to get the country back on track, but voters are already tired of waiting. So the window of opportunity may not be open much wider for Romney if he can’t get something done quickly to reduce unemployment.
So when you look closely at what he’s saying, he’s talking about taking his entire term to lower unemployment—using the Republican legislative agenda that we’ve already tried? And we’re supposed to wait a decade for a balanced budget?
That’s going to require an enormous amount of patience from an historically impatient electorate.
Good luck with that.
Jackie Jones, a veteran journalist and journalism educator, is director of Jones Coaching LLC, a career transformation firm.