By Bernice Napach
The country may be focused on the presidential election but former Senator Arlen Specter says Congress is the key to what happens to the U.S. economy.
"Regardless of who is elected president, if Congress is gridlocked nothing will happen in Washington," Specter tells The Daily Ticker. And there are many issues that require Congressional attention, including the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending reductions that will all take effect by year end if Congress does nothing.
Specter spent 30 years in Washington as a senator from Pennsylvania, most of them as a Republican. But after he voted for the president's stimulus plan in 2009 — "the single most important vote of 10,000" he notes — Specter switched to the Democratic Party, setting the stage for the end of his political career. He recounts it all in his new book Life Among The Cannibals.
Specter hasn't endorsed a candidate for the presidential election. He's critical of Mitt Romney's constant position shifts and says the former Massachusetts governor doesn't have a plan to revive the economy. But Specter says President Obama hasn't had much success with the economy either and should explain why he didn't follow through on recommendations from the Simpson-Bowles commission to cut the deficit.
Unlike Romney, Specter supports the stimulus plans of Presidents Obama and Bush which together injected about $1.5 trillion into the economy. Those programs "saved us from a depression" says Specter. Now he says it's up to U.S. voters to do their job come election day by choosing a Congress that will "take care of the people's business."