News / Economy

Opinion: Washington's Scandals Won't Stunt US Recovery

An investor monitors the stock market at a securities brokerage in Taipei, Apr. 16, 2013.
An investor monitors the stock market at a securities brokerage in Taipei, Apr. 16, 2013.
Reuters
Scandal has visited the Obama administration, and thanks to the media narrative it's larger than the sum of its parts.
 
With a talking-point imbroglio after Benghazi, the IRS's discriminatory practices and the Justice Department's procurement of Associated Press phone records, the Obama administration and its allies are right to be worried.
 
But those of us invested in U.S. growth have little reason to fret. The past few years have proved that dysfunction in Washington has almost no effect on America's attractiveness to investors. As the yields on U.S. Treasury bonds prove, America continues to be the place for investors to park their money. That's because petty politics don't control the fate of the country.
 
In major emerging markets, politicians have to behave to appeal to investors. In capitals like Moscow, Delhi and Pretoria, this is largely an act of optics, but it's an important one for countries trying to earn the trust of investors who see opportunity, but not necessarily stability.
 
For further proof of developing countries' precarious position, look to Bangladesh, where a country's economy has been threatened by its politicians' negligence before, during and after the country's latest garment industry catastrophe.
 
Things are not nearly as volatile in the United States, and they won't be even if the Obama scandals metastasize. Growth has already been moving in the right direction, and the Unites States doesn't need a pristine Obama administration to ensure that it continues.
 
On energy, the Obama administration has wisely shifted regulation to the state level, allowing states such as Texas, Oklahoma and North Dakota to create drilling jobs even as a state such as New York wrestles with the environmental impact of fracking. This has helped control unemployment and keep energy prices down, and solidify the country's long-term energy security. Nothing about that is likely to change.
 
On trade, Obama has led a remarkably pro-free trade administration, despite critics who say otherwise. His administration is remaking international trade architecture away from a failed Doha round and toward transatlantic and transpacific partnerships. None of that changes, either.
 
Finally, Congress has not actually been that dysfunctional recently - and the recent scandals should not set it back.
 
Policy items such as immigration reform, tax reform or another debt ceiling extension are framed by congressional incentives.
 
On immigration, it's a political win for both parties, one that has been driven by a bipartisan Senate initiative, not the White House.
 
Now that Senate tax chief Max Baucus has announced his retirement, his focus has shifted from a grueling 2014 reelection campaign to his legacy: a bid for comprehensive tax reform. That gives us motivated committee chairs in the Senate and the House, where David Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has already pushed for a revenue-neutral reform effort. Congress needs to raise the debt ceiling so as not to be remembered for crashing the economy - and Republicans will be in a position to tie its passage to reasonable demands (perhaps even tax reform).
 
With Congress finally making progress, an embattled Obama administration won't hurt, and could even help, the passage of these measures. That's because the administration's problems are just that - the administration's. If the 2014 coattail strategy becomes less palatable for congressional Democrats facing re-election, Democrats may be more eager to cut a deal with Republicans so they can run on their legislative accomplishments instead of their association with the president. Similar logic applies to a harried Obama, who may be more willing to get behind new legislation in the hopes of diverting attention from the scandals.
 
That a floundering Obama administration doesn't necessarily equate to a floundering country is an uplifting story. Washington is working as it should - ills affecting the executive branch can largely be contained therein. The congressional agenda and the health of the American economy don't have to suffer along with it.

You May Like

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8916
JPY
USD
121.32
GBP
USD
0.6487
CAD
USD
1.3252
INR
USD
66.401

Rates may not be current.