In an address to Ohio voters this morning, John Boehner will call for some Hope and Change at the White House. Specifically, Boehner hopes that Barack Obama will change personnel on his economics team, which has thus far failed to produce any success in generating real growth or jobs in the US. The Washington Post quotes the upcoming Boehner speech as saying that “the writing is on the wall” for Obamanomics:
Boehner, delivering what his aides billed as a major economic address, will say President Obama’s team lacks “real-world, hands-on experience” in creating jobs, according to a draft version of his speech that was released in advance. The Republican lawmaker plans to cite reports that some senior aides complained of “exhaustion,” including the recently departed budget chief Peter Orszag.
“President Obama should ask for – and accept – the resignations of the remaining members of his economic team, starting with Secretary Geithner and Larry Summers, the head of the National Economic Council,” Boehner says in the prepared remarks, which are scheduled for delivery at the City Club of Cleveland shortly after 8 a.m. The mass dismissal, he adds, “is no substitute for a referendum on the president’s job-killing agenda. That question will be put before the American people in due time. But we do not have the luxury of waiting months for the president to pick scapegoats for his failing ‘stimulus’ policies.”
Boehner’s demand for the ousters of Geithner and Summers is likely to be met with derision in the West Wing, and denounced as mere electioneering less than 75 days before the midterm election. Calls for cabinet officials to be fired is nothing new for the party out of power — during the Bush administration many Democrats called for the ouster of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, a demand that was not met until Democrats swept the 2006 midterms.
That’s an interesting example to use. Bush didn’t get the message on the war until after the GOP suffered a big defeat at the midterm polls, losing control of both chambers of Congress — an outcome that was viewed as a long shot before the election. Had Bush acted earlier to bolster confidence by removing Rumsfeld and demonstrating that he understood that Americans wanted to see some change in direction in Iraq, would the GOP have salvaged the Senate? Possibly, although it’s hard to tell four years later.
Clearly, though, the sinking fortunes of the war in Iraq played a large part in the midterm losses of 2006. Just as clearly, the sinking fortunes of the economy will play a large role in these midterms. What has Obama done to build confidence? According to Bloomberg, he sent Joe Biden on the road to sell Recovery Summer while Obama vacations in Martha’s Vineyard:
With President Barack Obama and other members of his administration taking a summer break, one senior official stayed behind to pick up the slack.
Vice President Joe Biden has been crossing the country over the past seven days on official visits and political events, staying in front of voters as the White House spokesman on the economy.
In other words, Obama will keep demanding to voters that they’re wrong about the economy, that things have actually improved, even though more of them are out of work and the economy has started nose-diving after only a brief period of meager growth. It’s difficult to see how Obama could possibly be more out of touch. People can read economic indicators for themselves, and having them all decline for several months is not something people will forget simply because Biden offers a jolly spin from the dais.
In fact, Boehner may have given Obama the best political advice he could get. Firing the team that failed to deliver the growth Obama promised would at least show that Obama understands that his policies aren’t working. If he waits until the day after the midterms, it’s not going to do him or his party much good.
Update: Trap sprung, says Andrew Malcolm:
Boehner’s communications staff springs the trap. Having drawn their DNC opponents into helping to publicize the Republican speech, just before he speaks and in time for the morning news shows they leak the fairly dramatic news that the GOP leader’s remarks will call for the mass firing of Obama’s entire economic time for, in effect, engineering the prolonged period of unemployment. Which gets the debate back onto the economy where the GOP wants it.)
And where it should have been all along.