DC ignores jobs and economy

There are two interrelated myths of politics today that drive me crazy.

The first is that Republicans spend all their time catering to Wall Street and the financiers of the economy. The other fairy tale is that politicians in both parties are guided by poll results.

Neither of these legends is true, and recent weeks have shown this to be the case more than ever before.

Wall Street wants Republicans to do something — anything — to get this economy going.

Polls are consistently showing that “job creation and the economy” top every list of the most important issues or problems facing the states and the nation as a whole.

Yet Republicans are dogging other rabbits.

We need to get back to chasing the issue that has been our nation’s top priority for several years running: jobs.

Yes, I realize that some of the issues my fellow Republicans are focused upon in Washington, D.C., these days are foisted upon us by chronological and legal necessity because of Democrats’ profligate spending and the liberal policies passed under Democrat presidents.

Yes, we have to deal with busting the debt limit, and we must do it now. And we have to undo the ObamaCare blunder.

I also understand that these topics indirectly affect the economy and jobs. But there is inadequate focus on the impacts of debt and ObamaCare on jobs and the economy.

It is as if we now mostly want to defeat ObamaCare to whack the president. That’s the takeaway most Americans are likely to get watching most any news channel anywhere.

Where’s the outrage about the jobs that will be killed by this flawed policy? Looking at the polls, job impacts are not central enough to the debate. The ObamaCare debate should be all about jobs.

Why are Republicans and Democrats so tone deaf about economics? Where do I start?

For one thing, members of Congress simply don’t have a “jobs” problem. They are all gainfully employed with a cushy job that allows them to hang out most days with well-paid staff and go out most nights to lavish dinner parties thrown by the equally well off lobby and media elites.The kids of Capitol Hill types all get jobs, and none are paid minimum wage. And the mortgages of the District’s denizens are all paid up.

Life is good on the Hill. Personal experience does shape political outlook.

Another impediment to regaining focus on economic issues is fatigue.

Seemingly, leaders can concentrate for only a year or two before getting bored or pulling back from an issue for lack of success. 

There is a tendency to move along, to achieve some minor victory that allows us to take on other challenges. We’ve now been in this economic conundrum for so long that people just want it to go away, and some seem to think that ignoring it will make it disappear.

This fatigue factor even extends to public pollsters that help set the agenda.

Pollsters who ask about presidential job approval every few days and who commission whole polls on the topic of the moment will ask a “most important issue or problem” question only every six or 12 months.

Polling Report, a terrific window on the polling community, shows that only six national polls have asked such a question in the whole of 2013. No one is seriously monitoring the public’s priority agenda.

Some might argue that political and economic realities also play a role in straying from the jobs agenda. Certain states have less unemployment than others. Republican voters are more likely to have jobs or be retired, and hence to care less.

These arguments are wrong.

In every poll I read, Republicans and even residents of the economically stronger states still put jobs and economic growth at the top of the issue priority list. Listen to them.

Hill is a pollster that has worked for Republican candidates and causes since 1984.