This week, Republicans have been claiming that President Barack Obama is doing too many things at once and should put aside his plans in order to “fix the economy first,” a charge that the media reinforced over and over.
Today, National Economic Council director Larry Summers explained why it is imperative that Obama walk and chew gum by addressing health care, energy, and education, as they are all part of the economic recovery:
I cannot imagine that it would be rational not to work on making higher education affordable, not to increase financial confidence in the country by doing the work of getting health care costs under control. Not, at a time when there are millions of people unemployed, to be thinking about the sector like energy and the environment where new jobs can be created.
It would seem to me that it would be a manifest abdication of responsibility not, as we thought about recovery, to be thinking about making that recovery as sound and as strong as possible. It would be an abdication of responsibility, at a moment when several million people are unemployed, not to think about in which sectors their reemployment would be most productive.
Eugene Robinson wrote today that what Republicans really want “is to delay or derail the progressive reforms that voters elected President Obama to carry out.” But as we noted in The Progress Report, it is only by making these reforms “that the economy can be set on the path toward long-term sustainability.”