The Falcon | Volume 83, Issue 52
Published 5/22/13 | Log In
Congress more prominent in passing economic legislation
By JACK CLINCH, Editor in Chief
Published: October 24, 2012
This year’s presidential election has revolved around one central issue: the economy. Its health has been the subject of hours of debate and analysis, with each candidate asserting that his policies will end the recession we’re still stuck in.
Phrases like “job creation” and “putting Americans back to work” are running wild, as if that is the first thing in the president’s job description.
But it’s unfair to hold a president accountable for huge economic issues like unemployment. Credit and blame are being thrown around, and it is also disingenuous for presidential candidates to promise us an economic upturn as a result of their proposed policies.
The presidency is the most important office in the country, and it’s easy to fixate on it as the source of everything good and bad around here.
But Congress is the body that actually passes laws, including budgets. Spending bills originate in the House of Representatives and must pass the Senate and get the President’s signature.
Passing a bill is not easy, even under the most ideal circumstances. Even with control of the White House and majorities in both houses of Congress during the first two years of the Obama presidency, the Democrats were unable to pass healthcare reforms without a huge fight.
Neither of the two should be considered job-creating geniuses, anyway. Obama is really just a lawyer who has been in government for a while, and Bain Capital - which Romney founded and ran for much of his career - did not have job creation in its bottom-line.
Bright ideas concerning the economy are more likely to come from legislators who have made a career out of economic issues – like Romney’s running mate, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan. These people, on the right and the left, are the ones to pay attention to.
The candidates do, however, have values relating to the economy that are worth considering. Without getting into too much detail, here’s what they’re all about, in general.
Early in his term, Obama tried to institute a cap-and-trade program aimed at reducing CO2 emissions. He has also invested billions in government subsidies into the budding green energy industry. So the president seems willing to forego short-term economic recovery for the sake of sustainability.
Conservatives, Romney included, oppose these measures, citing the sluggish economy and the detrimental effect more regulation and investment might have on economic growth. Romney also wants to repeal the Dodd-Frank Wall Street regulations passed after the 2008 financial crisis.
Romney would prefer to set the economy free, while Obama would continue to enhance the government’s role in it. Basically, they don’t stray far from their respective party’s platforms.
Leadership is also important, especially given how gridlocked Congress is these days. Control of the Senate and House, which have Democratic and Republican majorities respectively, is unlikely to change hands this year. So no party, no matter how the presidential election turns out, will have its way in Washington.
Compromise will be the name of the game, and both Obama and Romney seem to be more willing to do that than the House has been over the past few years.
Romney dealt with an overwhelmingly liberal state legislature during his tenure as governor of Massachusetts, and Obama has compromised with Republican leaders on budget concerns on multiple occasions.
So it really comes down to Congress. And the good news is that we vote for them, too! A vote for your representatives is far more important than one for the president, especially considering the relative size of the two elections.
So look a couple sections further on your ballot this year, and you’ll find a decision that is just as important as the one between Obama and Romney.
Editor-in-Chief Jack Clinch is a junior political science major.