National Journal: Republicans Exuding Schadenfreude on Economy

What Do You Think?

A curious column in the National Journal alleges that Republicans are practicing “schadenfreude” on the recent economic news.  That being the May jobs reports which only produced 69,00 jobs that took the unemployment rate to 8.2%.  Is it schadenfreude or that Americans have lived with high unemployment for over 38 months?  Alexandra Jaffe thinks otherwise using what Eric Fehrnstrom said on ABC’s This Week last Sunday to expose Republicans for their alleged enjoyment at the dismal economic news.

Part of the problem with Obama’s leadership on the economy, Fehrnstrom argued, is that it’s been nonexistent – a “deficit of leadership,” he said. This president came into office without any prior experience running anything,” Fehrnstrom said on ABC’sThis Week. “He never even ran a corner store. And I think it shows in the way that he’s handling the economy. It’s a classic line of attack, and raises the question of whether Republicans are committing schadenfreude — joy at the misfortune of others. A 2008 study by several University of Kentucky psychologists concluded that politics “is prime territory” for such feelings, and that in several experiments they conducted found that Republicans who strongly identified with their party were especially likely to report schadenfreude as a result of poor economic news.

So one study and several experiments details irrefutable proof, that Republicans are likely to exude schadenfreude on bad economic news?  Where’s the other study? Better yet, does Ms. Jaffe even detail how consumer confidence has dropped again this month as a consequence of the dismal jobs report.  The nation’s economic recovery is grossly anemic and calls for change upon hearing such news, especially in politics, is not an unusual event.  As the column continues, we see the narrative Ms. Jaffe is trying to make, with Republicans being “obstructionist” and how Democrats have bills on the table that would create jobs if congress moves on the issue.

Obama senior adviser David Axelrod made his feelings clear about the issue on CBS’ Face the Nation: “Instead of high-fiving each other on days when there is bad news, they should stop sitting on their hands and work on some of these answers.”

Republicans were, in fact, in lockstep against Obama on the issue of news that the economy had only produced a disappointing 69,000 new jobs in May, sending the unemployment rate up to 8.2 percent. Romney adviser Ed Gillespie joined Fehrnstrom in noting Obama’s lack of leadership on Fox News Sunday as well, accusing him of constantly campaigning and fundraising while failing to lead on “taxmageddon and the sequestration.”

Deputy Obama campaign manager Stephanie Cutter highlighted Congress’ inactivity as well on This Week, chastising the legislative branch for failing to pass a number of Obama’s proposals that she said would create “a million jobs.”

“So there are a million jobs sitting on that table in Congress right now that they could — they could move on.  They need to get off their hands and stop rooting for failure,” she said.

In actual fact, this congress has passed numerous pieces of legislation aimed at cutting the debt, curbing our deficit, and creating jobs.  All of these proposals have been blocked by the Democratic controlled senate.  If Mr. Axelrod and Ms. Cutter want to see action, I highly suggest they call Sen. Harry Reid’s office at their earliest possible convenience.  However, it was only until Republicans retook the House and canceled the Obama credit card did congress become “hostile.”  Before that, during the Pelosi’s Speakership, Congress passed most of the Obama domestic agenda.  Obamacare was the signature achievement in the president’s first term.  In addition, Cash for Clunkers, Dollars for Dishwashers, Cash for Caulkers, and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act were all passed.

Furthermore, let’s revisit where Mr. Obama had a chance to create jobs back in the spring with the Keystone Pipeline.  A project that would have created 20,000 new jobs in the United States.  However, the Chamber of Commerce estimates that the pipeline could possibly create 250,000 permanent jobs if it were approved.  However, the Obama administration delayed it last January, but made it “a priority” when gas prices soared last spring. Can you smell the cynicism?  We have $5 trillion in dew debt, our third consecutive trillion dollar deficit, and high unemployment.  This is not schadenfreude Ms. Jaffe.  It is a call for change.  With only 31% of Americans feel the country is heading in the right direction, it shows that it’s not only Republicans who are souring on President Obama.  There is a growing consensus in this country, especially with Republicans,  who are simply saying “no thanks” to the Obama agenda.

As Eric Fehrnstrom stated on ABC’s This Week:

FEHRNSTROM: Well, I agree with Stephanie, first, that this president is not adding jobs fast enough. And I think for anybody who is urgently waiting for improvement in the economy, last week was not a good week. And it’s not just the devastatingly weak jobs report we got on Friday. It was also the revision in GDP downward for the first quarter. It’s a drop in consumer confidence. It was an increase in unemployment claims.

And it’s not that we don’t think that this president is trying. I think he is. It’s just that his policies are not working. And, by the way, George, not just the policies…

This is not schadenfreude Ms. Jaffe.  It’s politics.


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Matt Vespa

I'm a staunch Republican and a politics junkie who was recently the Executive Director for the Dauphin County Republican Committee in Harrisburg. Before that, I interned with the Republican Party of Pennsylvania in the summer of 2011 and Mary Pat Christie, First Lady of NJ, within the Office of the Governor of NJ in 2010. I was responsible for updating his personal contact list. My first political internship was with Tom Kean Jr's. U.S. Senate campaign in 2006.

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