TPM's Brian Beutler wins the afternoon as far as I'm concerned with this piece describing how the media could not be even remotely interested in hearing what our elected leaders have to say about America's under-reported unemployment crisis, unless they also get to swallow some Weiner to sate their ravenous appetite for pseudo-events.
The scene was House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's weekly press availability, what Beutler accurately describes as normally a "fairly routine press event." Today, however, there were suddenly lots and lots of reporters there. Pelosi was there to talk jobs. The reporters had other plans. I'll just cut to Beutler's video mashup of what happened.
Go read the whole thing, obviously.
It's sad. As I discussed some weeks ago, the media has basically abandoned the entire idea of covering the unemployment crisis. And the excuse that's offered is, "Well, no one in Congress is doing anything about it, they're all working on the deficit."
Of course, they could still cover the unemployment crisis by finding actual unemployed people to talk to. And seeing as how they contributed to deficit panic through their self-constructed "Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop," they could mount a "Beltway Unemployment Feedback Loop" and do America a real solid.
But here we have a public official who says she wants to talk about jobs. Point cameras at her! Critique her stances and her plans! Do something, about the calamity in America, you know?
Of course, even the reporters who were there with steno pads and nothing better to do couldn't be bothered to scribble down whatever Pelosi had to say about anything other than Anthony Weiner. That's why when you read about what Pelosi said today, about jobs, the story will be "Pelosi Refuses to Answer Questions About Weiner's Resignation," even though she never made any such refusal, she just said she'd address it later.
(By the way, I can't wait for the sure-to-be forthcoming spate of articles and reports about how the Democrats "struggled to get their message out to the media" during Weinergate. That will be a hilarious time!)
Because I care about you, I have appended what Pelosi, Rep. Mark Critz (D-Pa.), and Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) said about jobs at the end of this post. As for the questions the various journalists asked Pelosi after her remarks, well, none of them seem interested in sharing those with you, so I'll honor their efforts by refraining from sharing them with you. You'll probably do as good a job critiquing Pelosi, anyway. (The first two questions, however, were about Anthony Weiner.)
Meanwhile, a time zone away in Minneapolis, Lizz Winstead talks Anthony Weiner ironies with Slate's Dave Weigel:
"If there was anyone in Congress who should have understood how the media was going to play this and obsess over this, it was him," she said. "He was out in front trying to get people to pay attention to Clarence Thomas's ethics issues, and he couldn't get people to cover it. Why? Because it wasn't sexy.
Unemployed people of America: if you want to get cable news to cover your plight, you must send the sexiest twitpics of your genitals to cable news reporters. Please do so today!
TRANSCRIPT OF REMARKS:
PELOSI: Good morning. Thank you for joining us once again for our regularly-scheduled Thursday morning press conference.
As usual, we are here to talk about jobs, about protecting Medicare, and protecting the middle class.
If you're here to ask a question about Congressman Weiner, I won't be answering any. I have made the statements I am going to make. It is my understanding that later in the day he will be having a press conference, and after that I will have a statement available. I just tell you that up front.
It is day 163, 163 days since the Republicans have taken over the majority of the House of Representatives--almost 6 months, and still no jobs bill on the floor. Instead, the Republicans have put forth a budget that ends Medicare, while making seniors pay more to get less or give tax subsidies to Big Oil. They are harming seniors by changing Medicaid, while they give tax breaks to businesses that send jobs overseas. They are reducing our investment in education and making it worse for our children and making it more expensive for nearly 10 million young people to go to college, making it prohibitively expensive for them, while they give tax cuts to the wealthiest people in our country.
We want to put people back to work. We want to do so as we put our fiscal house in order. We will not do it on the backs of our children, our seniors, or the great middle class. Democrats are focused on creating jobs, strengthening the middle class, preserving Social Security, and responsibly reducing the debt.
We have introduced--you have been here with our Whip, Steny Hoyer with a Make It in America agenda. It is an agenda about stopping the erosion of our industrial manufacturing and technological base. It is an agenda about, again, making it in America by building the infrastructure of our country with Build America Bonds and the rest.
We have had this presentation over and over again. We have not been able to get one of these bills brought to the floor under the leadership of the Republican majority, and so we are going another route.
We are taking one element of the Make It in America agenda that is a component that addresses the manipulation of currency by the Chinese government. This is unfair to American workers. It is costing us over 1 million jobs.
And I'm very proud of the leadership of our Members who are here with me. I'm very honored to be joined by the former chair and current ranking and hopefully soon again chair of the Ways and Means Committee, Sandy Levin, who knows this issue well and has worked on it for a long time, and with one of our newer Members of Congress, Congressman Mark Critz, who knows firsthand with his interaction with his district the impact of the manipulation of the currency by China on exports to our country.
It is a subsidy for their exports. It is a disservice to our workers. And we are going to have--and Mr. Critz will talk about a discharge petition. They won't bring to the floor. We are moving to discharge this legislation.
And now I'm very pleased to yield to the gentleman from Pennsylvania, Congressman Mark Critz.
CRITZ: Thank you, Madam Leader; and it is actually an honor to be here to stand with the Leader and Former Chairman Levin talking about the manipulation of the currency by the Chinese government.
What you may or may not remember is that, last year, Chairman Levin brought the bill to the floor; and in September of last year, 348 Members voted to pass it. It was a majority of both Democrats and Republicans. We all recognize that this is an issue.
And here again, because it didn't pass in the Senate, Ranking Member Levin on Ways and Means introduced the bill again--it is H.R. 639--in February of this year; and it has been sitting at Ways and Means ever since.
When I go back to the district--I'm from southwestern Pennsylvania--all I hear is concerns about the economy, concerns about what we are doing to create jobs, and the manipulation of the Chinese currency costs this country and the estimates range, as the Leader said, around 1 million jobs every year in this country. Now, when we are talking about a high unemployment rate, that is real numbers; and that is real jobs in my district where we lost steel, we lost garments, because of foreign competition.
So here we are 4 months later. The estimates are that the Chinese currency is undervalued by about 24 percent, and this costs us a million jobs. It reduces our GDP by estimates by about 1.5 percent. So here we are standing, waiting for the Republican leadership to move on what Americans want us to talk about. It is about jobs and the economy.
So this morning I dropped the discharge petition to the Rules Committee so that we can get Congressman Levin's bill to the floor, which both Democrats and Republicans support. We just need to get their leadership to move it.
So, with that, I would like to yield to Congressman Levin so he can talk about more details of the bill. But this is something that we need to talk about. This is about the future of this country, and this gives our administration--gives our country leverage when they are dealing with foreign countries who manipulate their currency.
LEVIN: Thank you, Mark and Madam Leader. Currency is a jobs issue. That is the major point. And when another country manipulates its currency, especially a China with its huge economy, it hurts American jobs.
The estimates do vary from a half a million to a million and a half American jobs. We get every day from the ITC the latest on China currency, and the basic estimate of IIE is that it is more undervalued now than last year.
Mark, you mentioned about 24 percent. IIE estimates 28 percent undervalued. So it tips the scale like this.
So I just want to show you, as I finish, a chart. This has essentially an every two-week estimate. And it shows when we acted on the bill in the fall, it impacted. It impacted, and there was this kind of a drop, a change in the undervaluation. Since then, it has been much smaller, and so the playing field continues to be rigged.
And this discharge petition is being introduced as another effort to make it clear to everybody that this Congress cares. Now, it is up to the majority to show it cares. It has said this is not a priority. If jobs is the number one priority--it is for us--they will act on the currency bill.
PELOSI: And we, of course, would hope to get 218 signatures to discharge that bill to come to the floor. Needless to say, all of the Republicans who voted for the bill more than one time I would hope would see the need to do it and address the concerns of their own constituents about the impact of China's unfair trade policies on their constituents.
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