Republican Presidential Candidates Blame Economic Woes on “Obamacare” and Dodd-Frank Act

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Candidates repeat their claims that regulation is preventing job creation.

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In a round-table debate focused on jobs and the economy, Republican presidential candidates last night placed much blame for the continuing economic downturn on two laws: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and the Dodd-Frank Act.

Although the candidates did not agree on all issues, they united in their disdain for the PPACA – or what they called, “Obamacare.”

U.S. Representative Michele Bachman (R-MN) and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) both said the uncertain costs imposed by the health reform law are preventing businesses from hiring.  Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) argued that “government intervention” in health care, such as through what he called “death panels,” would do more harm than good. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman claimed that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will need to hire 19,500 employees to administer the act.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney pledged to repeal the health care reform law if elected President, while Texas Governor Rick Perry joined the chorus but criticized Romney for leading a similar reform effort in Massachusetts, which Perry referred to as “Romneycare.”

The Dodd-Frank Act was the other major regulatory target of the night. Bachmann referred to the act as the “Jobs and Housing Destruction Act” and argued that it only institutionalized governmental missteps in the lending market.  U.S. Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) called Dodd-Frank a “disaster” that has imposed $1 trillion in costs on Americans. Romney said that while large banks were prepared to meet the demands of Dodd-Frank, its various regulations and inspections would harm community banks and make it harder for small businesses to get loans.

In addition to PPACA and Dodd-Frank, the candidates criticized the Federal Reserve. Paul said that its decision making was too secretive. Former CEO Herman Cain, who served on the board of the Federal Reserve of Kansas City in the 1990s, said that he did not agree with the Federal Reserve’s actions, especially its administration of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Gingrich called for making public all Federal Reserve decision documents from 2008-2010 and for firing Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

The candidates also claimed that other business regulations were generally responsible for the currently high levels of unemployment across the nation. Perry repeatedly stated that the energy sector would provide a strong source of new jobs if only the federal government stopped over-regulating it.  Santorum called for repealing all Obama Administration regulations costing over $100 million because of their effects on the manufacturing sector, claiming that “when manufacturing left [the steel towns], a lot of the people in the middle income of America left.”

The White House press secretary commented at a press briefing today that “even if you agree with Republican policy proposals aimed at deregulation, there is no case to be made that if enacted those proposals would result in an immediate, positive impact on the economy or in job creation.”

Image by Flickr user SusanSimon, and used under a Creative Commons license.