Congress is getting mad: “Growing discontent over the economy and frustration with efforts to speed its recovery boiled over Thursday on Capitol Hill in a wave of criticism and outright anger directed at the Obama administration.” The outrage is bipartisan — the Black Caucus, Sen. Chuck Schumer, and lots of Republicans. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is the target du jour:
“Conservatives agree that as point person, you failed. Liberals are growing in that consensus as well,” said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.). “For the sake of our jobs, will you step down from your post?” Rep. Michael C. Burgess (R-Tex.) took a different tack. “I don’t think that you should be fired,” he told Geithner. “I thought you should have never been hired.” Even Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), a friend of the administration, suggested that Geithner had been inconsistent in addressing China’s practice of keeping its currency low against the dollar.
Why now? Maybe the poll numbers have spooked those in Congress. Maybe the unemployment numbers have frightened them. But they sense that the White House has no real game plan for economic recovery, the stimulus has been a bust, and the real possibility exists for either a double-dip recession or a long slog with low growth.
Part of this is the doing of the very same lawmakers who are now grousing. No one forced them to spend time on two job-killer bills — cap-and-trade and ObamaCare. Well, other than their own leadership. And they aren’t about to recognize the connection between anemic hiring and the raft of tax hikes, mandates, and fines they have in mind as part of health care.
But the outbursts are noteworthy for one reason: they suggest that those in the Congress know that their own fate is tied to the economy and that the sagging popularity of the president means he’ll be of little help (and maybe great harm) in 2010.