When I heard this week about that family in Massachusetts getting so lost in a corn maze that they called 911, two questions came to mind: How is it possible that they could negotiate a cell phone contract, but were outwitted by a grain crop? And why does this story remind me so much of D.C.?

The second one I can answer: Because in terms of the economy, this city is filled with befuddled politicians trying to find a way out — and bending a lot of ears in the process.



President Obama has just spent weeks hopping on hay bales around the country to explain his jobs plan, but all he’s harvested is a bumper crop of complaints on Capitol Hill. I can imagine him and Harry Reid looking over the bill like an old, rusty tractor. “I don’t know, Mr. President. We might be able to salvage a part or two, but mainly it’s just going for scrap.”

On the Republican side, every day seems to bring another scheme for lowering unemployment and balancing the budget: incentives for business, tax reform, less regulation, more manufacturing. I think the latest involves selling San Francisco to the Canadians.

Herman Cain, the pizza baron, is trying to play rainmaker with his 9-9-9 plan, which calls for a 9 percent income tax, 9 percent corporate tax and 9 percent sales tax. (I assume we’ll also have to tip if it’s delivered in 30 minutes or less.) He says it will streamline the tax code, produce as much revenue as the current system and provide for substantial growth to boot. Problem is, economic analysts see so many variables in his plan that a forecast of what might really happen could just as accurately be taken from the Old Farmer’s Almanac. “Yep, here ‘tis, on page twenty-seven. A balanced budget!”

 

And truthfully, that is the reason all these political types are lost in the corn maze. The problems in the economy, and the challenge of creating jobs, are genuinely daunting. Even the most promising notions are fraught with uncertainty.

Come to think of it, maybe being lost in a corn maze would not be bad. At least for the next 13 months.

– CNN’s Tom Foreman is a regular on “AC360°”/www.ac360.com and “The Situation Room.”

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