This shift in Obama’s language isn’t a new development, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. At least as far back as July 2011 left-leaning economics writers were noting the president’s abandonment of Keynesian arguments. And some strong recent reporting, like this New York Times article by David Leonhardt, explores the roots of the Obama administration’s too-timid response to the jobs crisis.
But there’s no reason for mainstream reporters to leave this as a topic for the partisan or ideological press, and no reason to look only to the past. And, whatever Obama may wish to declare as the central question of this campaign, high unemployment—which depletes household savings, weighs down economy-wide demand, wreaks havoc on personal and family life, stunts the career paths of young people, and exacerbates long-term budget problems—remains the most pressing economic issue we face right now.
And so there’s an important role for reporters—from the moderators of future debates to the traveling campaign press to local journalists along the trail—to play here. The next time you have an opportunity, ask something like this:
Mr. President, I know that Republican opposition in Congress has blocked most of your agenda for the last two years. But I can’t find much in your proposals that would start putting Americans back to work right away, even if they were passed. Where’s your short-term jobs plan?
Paired with appropriate follow-ups and smart writing, this might just serve to highlight the fact that Obama doesn’t have a short-term jobs plan, which would be a useful journalistic service. Or, asked often enough, it might prompt Obama to come up with a plan and start talking about it, which would be even better.
Over the next few days Obama is scheduled to have public events in a pair of key swing states, Virginia and Ohio. Reporters will no doubt be on hand. Who will be the first to ask?