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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fairi
X
Brian Padden
May 29, 2015 1:27 PM
With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9205
JPY
USD
123.69
GBP
USD
0.6508
CAD
USD
1.2456
INR
USD
64.051

Rates may not be current.