WASHINGTON -- In the lead-up to the 2012 elections, both President Obama and Democratic leaders will likely argue that the continued economic malaise the country has experienced is owed to the inflexibility of the Republican Party.
There has been little room to maneuver for additional stimulus, let alone any truly significant legislative accomplishments -- save bills to keep the government funded. And as the unemployment level hovers around or above nine percent, there is a case to be made (whether successful, honest, or not) that at a time when the government had a role to play, the GOP-led House has held back.
Appearing on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) offered a preview of that argument.
CANDY CROWLEY: I can't let you get away without a political question. But I put the [question to] David Axelrod last week in a slightly different form. And that is, can Democrats in the House gain seats in the 2012 election if the unemployment rate is 9 percent?
PELOSI: We -- we expect to have a full debate about all of the issues that affect the American people. We are about the kitchen table, and what are the issues -– the jobs, the education of their children, the security of their pension, and their homes, and the rest of that.
It is very hard historically it is –- you can see the charge. When the jobs are –- the unemployment rate is high, it's hard for the incumbent to win. I remind you, though, we're not the incumbent. The Republicans are the incumbents.
The idea that the House Republicans are the incumbents in 2012 is inherently a self-interested proposition. And Candy Crowley noted, shortly thereafter, that the GOP's power ends at the barriers of just one side of the capitol building. President Obama is on the ballot and among political actors he has the most impact over the course of economic policy. Shortly thereafter, Pelosi did concede that she was speaking about the House alone.
Still, the idea that the House Republicans can serve as an effective political foil has already been observed in a special Congressional election in New York. And as the election gets closer, it seems likely that the president, too, will start putting some of the blame for a tepid recovery on GOP leadership, as opposed to just touting his own accomplishments.