A DO-NOTHING CONGRESS. Congressional partisan theatrics were again on display this week, when Senate Republicans blocked another key piece of President Obama’s jobs bill. The $60 billion package invests in infrastructure and would create 150,000 jobs, paid for by 0.7 percent tax on all income over $1 million and would affect only .2 percent of the US population. Taken together with last month’s vote to block another key piece of the legislation—$35 billion in aid to states to hire teachers and first responders—Congress has again demonstrated its inability and unwillingness to deal with the jobs crisis and the economy.
Meanwhile, the supercommittee remains at an impasse over deficit reduction. As I explained in the Washington Post this week, wrangling over how to cut $1.2 trillion from the federal budget has Medicare and Social Security on the chopping block and Democrats on the supercommittee all too willing to cut government at a time of mass unemployment. With a 9 percent approval rating, Congress has achieved the remarkable feat of making itself less popular than Wall Street.
President Obama was right to criticize the “do-nothing” Congress for wasting taxpayers’ time and money when they reaffirmed “in God we trust” as the national motto earlier this week. The president has bypassed Congress and taken his jobs message directly to the American people with executive orders aimed at mortgage relief and student loan reform. More action must follow. I joined The Ed Show on MSNBC on Wednesday to talk about the impact of the president’s shift to focusing on job creation and how the Republican Congress is obstructing progress on the economy. I commend the president’s strong focus on job creation, but as I told Ed, he must stay on it with action.
THE CHANGE I BELIEVE IN. Three years after progressives celebrated the election of Barack Obama, partisan gridlock and influence continue to affect our political landscape and the change we worked for and hoped for remains elusive. In those years, as editor of The Nation and a writer, a woman, mother and citizen, I navigated this new era in politics like many Americans—from the exhilaration engendered by Obama’s election and the first months of his presidency, through the disappointments. My new book, The Change I Believe In: Fighting for Progress in the Age of Obama (Nation Books), explores that journey in a collection of my columns and commentaries written over these past years. As I argue in the book, the change I believe in is not one that happens in one or two or even three election cycles. It takes a politics of conviction—one that demands commitment and a steadfast belief that the forces of decency and humanity will prevail over those of reaction and division. I joined C-SPAN’s Washington Journal earlier this week to discuss the book and our current political moment. That’s available here. I’ll also be joining MSNBC’s Hardball for more on my book Friday afternoon.