By Brent Budowsky - 01/29/14 07:00 PM EST
On Jan. 24, Gallup released a poll that should send shivers up the spines of Democrats and Republicans throughout official Washington. The full story was titled: “Record low say own representative deserves re-election.”
Gallup found that only 46 percent of voters believe their individual member of Congress should be reelected, a record low that is significantly lower than was reported in the wave elections of 1994, 2006 and 2010. Equally ominous for members facing voters in 2014, Gallup also found that only 17 percent of those voters believe most members deserve reelection, another historic low.
Voters remain imprisoned in a decade of depression during which they have believed our nation is on the wrong track. In the latest expression of pervasive pessimism, the RealClearPolitics average of polls finds that almost 63 percent of Americans believe the nation is on the wrong track, and public disapproval of Congress has risen above 80 percent. These trends have poisoned the public mood toward incumbent politicians for a decade, fomenting repeated “change elections” that have failed to bring change, fueling near universal public contempt toward Congress.
The conditions are ripe for an electoral explosion of public discontent that could shake the foundation of American politics. President Obama’s popularity is near the lowest of any president in the sixth year of his presidency, comparable to then-President George W. Bush’s low numbers during the anti-GOP wave of 2006. Public antipathy toward Congress is greater than during the anti-Democratic wave of 2010. Anyone expressing certainty about “winners and losers” in 2014 is betting with fool’s gold. Public anger is now directed against both parties.
The stakes are enormous. The fate of the House, the Senate and the Obama presidency are all in play. The big variable is jobs.
According to the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, a powerful 91 percent believe creating jobs should be an urgent national priority. Major legislation offered by Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), with a growing list of bipartisan co-sponsors, could create a million new jobs and bring a surprise agreement between the president, Congress, business and labor that would reduce public antipathy toward incumbents and help avoid an anti-incumbent wave in 2014.
This bill would allow U.S. multinationals to repatriate $1 trillion of capital, now sitting idly abroad to avoid high taxes, by purchasing low-taxed bonds to finance an infrastructure rebuild of America.
This bill would guarantee the creation of dramatic numbers of good-paying American jobs. It would promote a rising tide to lift all American boats and a “virtuous circle” that benefits the 1 percent and the 99 percent together.
For business, this is the only realistic option to achieve repatriation. Because infrastructure bonds would be publicly traded, firms could convert foreign-held capital to the bonds and then sell them on public markets, turning them into liquid capital while jobs are created, growth is increased, revenue is raised and deficits are cut.
Delaney told me Tuesday: “This bill is gaining bipartisan support because it represents the largest jobs bill in Congress and brings together the Democratic desire to rebuild America and the Republican desire to get capital flowing to create private sector jobs.”
If Federal Reserve Board Chairwoman Janet Yellen would move to redirect a small amount of quantitative easing programs to buying infrastructure bonds, the job gain could approach 2 million while the net cost of Fed purchasing would markedly decline.
By collaborating to create large numbers of new jobs for Americans, members of Congress could dodge the anti-incumbent wave and save their own jobs.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org