Skip to main content

No 'Avenger' in sight for America

By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
May 24, 2012 -- Updated 1304 GMT (2104 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dean Obeidallah: America's economy in trouble, needs an "Avenger" superhero
  • Captain Economy, Deficit Reduction Man would be nice; reality is Obama, Romney
  • He says Romney promises government cuts, but where has austerity worked?
  • Writer: Candidates, level with voters: There's no superhero plan for recovery' it'll be a slog

Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks including CNN. He is the editor of the politics blog "The Dean's Report" and co-director of the upcoming documentary, "The Muslims Are Coming!" Follow him on Twitter.

(CNN) -- America is in trouble. And we know it.

Just look at recent polls: 70% of Americans would describe the nation's economy as bad. Some 61% think our country is on the wrong track. Only 24% of Americans think the economy has actually improved in the past few years. And almost two-thirds of Americans are concerned about being able to pay for their housing.

We could use Captain Economy to help us create jobs. Plus we need Deficit-Reduction Man and Five-Percent-GDP-Growth-a-Year Dude. Or maybe we can just let The Hulk loose in Congress and tell him: "Hulk: Smash!"

(I'm not sure how Hulk smashing Congress helps the economy, but I think most of us would pay to see it.)

But, alas, there's no superhero in no sight. There's only President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.

I must admit that there was a time in 2008 that I thought Obama could have been a superhero, but I was wrong. We have seen his campaign theme morph in four years from "Yes We Can" to "It Could Be Worse."

In Obama's defense, his economic plan has helped the nation. Unemployment was at 10% in October 2009 and has fallen to 8.1%, and we have seen moderate job creation. But still the economy has a long way to go to match the booming growth years of the mid-2000s. We had a 4.6% unemployment rate just five years ago.

So here comes superhero wannabe Romney. This silver-spooned crusader has attacked Obama by stating, "We are enduring the most tepid recovery in modern history."

Romney essentially admits the economy has improved since Obama took office but claims that he has the super powers that will launch our nation to infinity and beyond. Or at least, as he promised this week, his economic plan would lower the nation's unemployment rate to 6% in four years.

What's Romney's solution? His website outlines a proposal for economic recovery, promising a five-point plan that he will submit immediately upon taking office, then "demand that Congress act on the package within 30 days."

But I think Romney might find that Congress won't be pushed around as easily as a blonde-haired kid in high school. All the "demanding" in the world might not get Congress to do what he wants.

Romney: I'll get unemployment down to 6%

Romney calls for tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations, but his big push to revitalize the economy is to reduce the deficit by cutting government spending. Here is my question for Mr. Romney: Can you please show us where this type of austerity has worked before? I'm all ears.

The most recent example is the United Kingdom, where conservative Prime Minister David Cameron slashed government spending in 2010 with the promise of economic growth. The result? The unemployment rate rose in 2011, and GDP contracted for the past two quarters, meaning that the nation is now back in a recession.

In contrast, last week we learned that Japan's economy grew by an annualized rate of 4.1% in the first quarter this year.

Was Japan's growth spurt caused by cutting government spending as Romney wants? Nope. Quite the opposite. The Japanese government increased expenditures. While the government spending did increase the deficit, it sparked much-needed economic growth.

If either candidate is going to make super promises about revitalizing the economy, he'll have to prove his ideas have worked in the past. And if he can't do that, he should at least be brutally honest and tell us there are no easy answers.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT