Republicans insist they want to create more jobs, but their rhetoric suggests they are so determined to defeat President Barack Obama they are willing to be obstructionists and let the economy stagnate until the 2012 election. The latest evidence: the continued assault on the Federal Reserve's modest effort this week to further reduce long-term interest rates and trigger more investment. The overheated assaults on Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke from Republican presidential candidates such as Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich reflect a recklessness that is not constructive for getting the nation back on track.
The Fed announced this week it will sell $400 billion in securities set to mature in three years and purchase longer-term securities. The goal is to encourage businesses to borrow and invest in the future by further driving down interest rates. It should also eventually push mortgage rates lower. There's not much further to go on interest rates, which were historically low even before the Fed acted. And many argue that the Fed's action is far too modest to have significant impact, perhaps just 350,000 jobs.
Yet even before the Fed acted this week, four top Republican members of congress sent a letter to Bernanke requesting the Fed refrain from future bond purchases. The letter claimed previous Fed efforts had not helped the economy create jobs, but in fact the economy would be in even worse shape without its previous actions.
For weeks now, Republicans in Congress have made clear that they have no intention of helping Obama improve the economy. They refused any real compromise on raising the debt ceiling, and House Speaker John Boehner has tried to short-circuit the deficit-reduction supercommittee by declaring any tax increases are off the table. Only a combination of spending cuts, additional revenue and entitlement reform will make a significant dent in reducing the federal deficit and reviving the economy.
Obama is correct: With unemployment above 9 percent nationally and 10 percent in Florida, Americans cannot wait some 14 months for help. The Obama administration has offered more detail about its plans to create more jobs, and the Fed took action this week that if anything is too modest. So far, Republicans are offering only more spending cuts and opposition to anything that might help the Democratic incumbent in the White House win re-election. Opposing the Fed and the president at every turn risks a further economic meltdown, and it is not a winning election strategy.