November 13, 2019

Economix Blog: Positive News Muddles Political Talking Points

Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist and commentator, had a novel thought in response to Friday’s jobs report, which showed 195,000 new jobs created in June:

Not really.

The positive report actually deprived both sides of talking points. Republicans acknowledged that the numbers were good — but not good enough. The White House appeared to tacitly concede that the effects of automatic budget cuts were not as dire as feared. In reaction to recent jobs reports, the Obama administration has called on Congress to replace so-called sequestration with a more deliberate approach to help the economy. But Alan B. Krueger, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, did not pick that bone on Friday, for the first time since sequestration went into effect.

“While more work remains to be done, today’s employment report provides further confirmation that the U.S. economy is continuing to recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression,” Mr. Krueger said in a blog post. He was vague in policy prescriptions going forward, saying that Washington should not “impose self-inflicted wounds on the economy” and that President Obama would continue to push the agenda he outlined in his State of the Union address.

Republicans, on the other hand, did have specific complaints. Just as they praised the uptick but called for stronger growth, Republican leaders called on Mr. Obama to delay the employer mandate beyond the year announced earlier this week.

“Delaying the inevitable for one year will bring no solace,” said Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House majority leader, in a statement. “We must have a permanent delay of Obamacare before we can realize our full job creating potential.”

The House speaker, John A. Boehner, had a litany of additional concerns about Mr. Obama’s approach to the economy over the last month, referring to a missed deadline that led federal student loan interest rates to double on July 1 and Mr. Obama’s speech on climate policy: “He threatens to veto a bill based on his own plan to make paying for college easier, then watches quietly as Senate Democrats let interest rates double; and he makes up new reasons to delay the Keystone pipeline in a speech about imposing a national energy tax.”

Mr. Boehner’s dig at Senate Democrats was a reminder of the divided government that has made clear economic policy difficult to achieve. Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, called on Mr. Boehner to “appoint budget conferees so that we can begin the process of negotiating a final budget based on a balanced approach to deficit reduction.”

But House Republicans appear to be divided on this matter themselves.

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