Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Life on Planet Pelosi

Prior to their two day retreat, Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic House leadership held a press conference outlining their policy agenda for the remainder of year. It was the usual Democratic fare: 1) raising the minimum wage (If only we could wipe out poverty with a stroke of the presidential pen!); 2) equal pay for equal work (Didn’t Obama already fix this by signing the Lilly Ledbetter Act? I mean that’s what he said in 2012); 3) paid sick leave; 4) extending emergency unemployment benefits; and 5) immigration reform.

During the conference, Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-New York) steps up to the microphone and says in his most sympathetic and somber voice:
"There are 1.7 million plus Americans today who find themselves economically stranded. They're in an island surrounded by economic debt. Desperately searching for a job and have now been denied an extension of unemployment insurance. What that really means to these individual is that as they continue to look for work, provide for their families, their education, their food, their medicine, their rent, their mortgage, their government is not there because of Republican Caucus refuses to extend unemployment insurance for these individuals and their families." 
Those cold hearted Republicans. They are "indifferent" to the plight of Americans that can't find work. While the Democrats care, care, care....

But wait a minute! Immigration reform also part of the Democratic agenda. So let me see if  I got this straight. Republicans are big meanies because they don't want to extend unemployment insurance for Americans that can't find work and at the same time we are supposed to do immigration reform and increase the labor supply. Huh?

How is it possible that there are not enough jobs for Americans and, simultaneously, there aren't enough Americans to do jobs? Maybe on Planet Pelosi it is possible to have both not enough jobs for Americans and not enough Americans to do the jobs; but not here on planet earth.

Not only there are/are not enough jobs for Americans, Pelosi also wants to make it more expensive for employers to hire individuals by raising the minimum wage and pushing for paid sick leave. Maybe Paul Krugman has the answer; but I don't see how increasing the labor supply and raising the cost of labor is a great way to help Americans who haven't been able to find jobs for almost two years.

I hope Republicans reading this get a nice chuckle; but don't kid yourself. Pelosi is a very clever political player. She is aware of the incoherence of the Democratic Agenda and it doesn't matter. This isn't about sound economic policy. It is about reinforcing the Democratic narrative that Republicans are indifferent to the problems of average Americans. It is about pandering to various groups that make up the Democratic coalition. It is about smart politicking. It is about winning elections.