Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Selling Snake Oil

Josh Marshall notes that Republicans are completely uninterested in jobs right now.

We know that congressional Republicans are saying they won't allow any more stimulus spending. That's been more or less clear since last November's election. And that doesn't surprise anyone much since, while it prevents any real action to boost the economy, it's also in line with Republican economic doctrines. The tell came when the White House pushed for a tax cut -- something which likely would not boost jobs as efficiently as direct spending but would pass Republican economic orthodoxy. That was rejected too. 

Of course Republicans aren't going to let anything pass that will improve the economy for working-class Americans.  That's a given. If they can't rule, they'll burn down the country until they are given what's left to lord over.   This isn't anything new.  Marshall goes a bit further.

Boil these statements down and they amount to: we're interested in long term structural changes to the economy not short term measures to boost jobs or growth. Nothing wrong with wanting long-term structural changes. Democrats want those too, just different ones. But I don't think anyone could get elected today in anything close to a competitive state or district writing off any kind of immediate effort to create jobs and economic growth. But that's what they're saying. 

And while this is true, the much deeper question to explore is why the Republicans are allowed to get away with this.  They ran in September on JOBS JOBS JOBS but have done nothing since being elected.  You can make the very strong case as a matter of fact that the legislation Republicans have passed in the House would only serve to cost America millions of jobs.

So again, why are Republicans allowed to get away with this?  The answer is that Republicans are now arguing that only long term structural austerity cuts, coupled with massive tax cuts for the rich, will solve our unemployment problems.  Republicans have been making this argument since 2009.  It won them the House in 2010.  They figure they can win the whole ball of wax in 2012.

The far larger problem?  The number of Democrats that agree with the above statement.  We know that cutting spending at the state level has on average cost jobs, while the states that increased spending on average gained jobs.  But you're not seeing Democrats make this argument.  Instead, they are agreeing with Republicans on the basic principle that cutting spending during a recession will improve the economy.  It won't.

We also know that cutting taxes on the rich doesn't create jobs either.  Republican economics has failed the country on jobs time and time again.  But they continue to be treated as serious policy wonks with viable economic policies.  The numbers don't lie:  unemployment is higher when spending is cut, and it's higher when taxes on the rich are cut.  The best empirical example of this was Bill Clinton's second term, when a balanced budget was created through revenue and the country was adding millions of jobs.  But the Republicans are going to try the opposite of that.

The best part?  When it fails to work, Republicans will simply say more cuts were needed.  Until the Democrats stop agreeing with the Republicans on this, the Republicans will be able to get away with the austerity snake oil again and again.  And because Americans want results and don't care who is actually responsible for tanking the economy but will judge Obama on it anyway, Republicans look like they're going to get away with doing just that.

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