‘Pivoting to jobs’

‘PIVOTING TO JOBS’…. Practically every national poll taken recently says the exact same thing about the public’s top priorities: job creation and economic growth are far more important than everything else.

With that in mind, MSNBC’s First Read noted this morning that the White House and congressional Democrats have their eyes on the prize.

Turning to domestic politics, the White House has quickly pivoted to jobs after the president’s State of the Union — even if it’s being overshadowed by the situation in Egypt. This week, the Obama administration will be holding several events tied to Obama’s call for innovation. And today, the White House is launching what it calls “Startup America” — an effort to promote entrepreneurship across the country.

Also today, Senate Democrats are holding a conference call to push for reauthorization of the nation’s aviation/airport programs, which they’re calling “the first jobs bill of the 112th Congress.” But as we’ve noted before, it’s striking how congressional Republicans haven’t made this pivot yet.

Republican efforts are often inexplicable to me, but First Read’s right — this really is just bizarre.

For a year and a half, job creation was ostensibly the GOP’s top goal. In March, almost immediately after the Affordable Care Act became law, John Boehner asked, “When are we going to address the number one issue on the minds of our fellow citizens? When are we going to focus on the economy and getting people back to work?”

Nearly a year later, Boehner and his caucus have stopped asking, and appear eager to tackle just about every issue other than job creation. Nearly a month into the new Congress, we’ve seen Republican leaders commit to gutting the health care system, an anti-abortion bill, school vouchers, tackling marriage rights in the District of Columbia, and make plenty of vague threats about spending cuts, all of which would undermine job creation.

But not a word about actually creating a job for anyone.

The GOP is barely maintaining a pretense here. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) wrote an op-ed recently on “economic policy,” and literally didn’t mention jobs at all. There were two Republican responses to the State of the Union address, and neither one presented specific ideas about job creation. The Republican Study Committee presented an economic plan of sorts, and it’s intended to deliberately put more Americans out of work.

Indeed, ask Republican leaders about their priorities, and they’re quite candid — they want to cut spending and reduce the massive deficit they created.

On the other side of the aisle, the Democratic jobs agenda is modest, but at least it exists. The State of the Union address emphasized areas like infrastructure, energy, and education, all of which are intended to improve American innovation and competitiveness in the long run, while creating jobs in the short term.

Can anyone, anywhere, actually describe the Republican plan to reduce unemployment? Has anyone even heard the GOP try?

Part of the problem, I suspect, is that Republicans actually don’t want to have a jobs plan — not because they’re unpatriotic, but because they have an ideological blind spot. They supported the tax deal approved in December, and that necessarily was the full extent of their policy ideas on creating jobs. Anything else might involve some public investment, and as far as the GOP is concerned, that means “spending” … and spending is bad.

The result, to borrow First Read’s word, is only one party “pivoting” to jobs. Dems and the GOP aren’t just offering different answers, they’re asking different questions. The White House and congressional Republicans obviously disagree on nearly everything, but to a certain extent they’re talking past one another — Democrats focused on job creation, without too much regard for the deficit, while Republicans are focused on the deficit, with willful disregard for job creation.