Economic posturing dominates our capital’s political scene

When official Washington traipsed back to town after Labor Day, it stared into the face of one of the capital’s ugliest big pictures: Zero jobs created in August; 53 percent of Americans telling pollsters they disapprove of the job President Barack Obama is doing; 62 percent disapproving of his handling of the economy; 68 percent disapproving of the way Congress Republicans are doing their jobs.

So our politicians began issuing new plans for fixing all our old problems. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney issued his plan. To ensure we recognized that he is a man of substance, Romney let us know his plan included “59 specific proposals.”

And of course, Obama selected tonight to issue his long-promised jobs plan.

No wonder wise Americans are prepared to get hit by a new blizzard of economist buzzwords. “Jump-start the economy … shovel-ready jobs … economic stimulus … infrastructure …”

We’ve been here before. We know politicians’ words and their lagging deeds. Indeed, some of us remember back to May 26, 2010, when a beaming and optimistic Obama went to Fremont to celebrate a federal government loan of
$535 million to a solar energy panel company named Solyndra.

“The true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra, will always be America’s businesses,” Obama said. “But that doesn’t mean the government can just sit on the sidelines.”

If you are a patriotic American, you surely hope that Obama will succeed in finally getting America’s economy going full throttle. You don’t want to hear any more about how it all started back in the years of the George W. Bush deficit expansion. You just want things to get better and you want the politicos to quit fighting over credit and blame.

If so, you may have been sad to learn that just a week ago Solyndra filed for bankruptcy, closed its factory and fired its 1,100 newly hired workers. The company said it could not compete against Chinese solar companies that are government-subsidized.

House Republicans had already been investigating whether the administration may have improperly helped Solyndra get its loan.

Interestingly, the company first applied to the Energy Department loan in 2006. And its application, stamped “Confidential,” contains a section titled “Advancing the President’s Advanced Energy Initiative” — a reference to then-President George W. Bush.

So whether or not any rules were ever bent, one thing that is very clear that this particular stimulus effort worked like a fine exploding cigar. These days Obama must be wondering which is worse, his timing or his luck.

Martin Schram writes political analysis for Scripps Howard News Service.

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