Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 24, 2011

GOP SCRAMBLES FOR CREDIT ON ECONOMY.... A couple of news items this morning suggest Americans should see meaningful economic progress in 2011. USA Today reported this morning, "Economists are more optimistic about the recovery than they were just a few months ago, significantly upgrading their forecasts for 2011 as consumers open their wallets."

Similarly, the Wall Street Journal noted, "U.S. companies plan to hire more workers in the coming months amid growing optimism over the economy, a quarterly survey released Monday showed, providing further evidence that the jobs market is turning around."

Time will tell whether this optimism is warranted; we can all certainly hope that it is. The recovery is clearly fragile, but there are signs that point to more robust growth.

And that seems to make Republicans a little nervous.

It took less than three weeks for the new Republican Congressional leadership to claim credit for an apparent economic upturn.

An aide to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Brian Patrick, emailed reporters this morning:

THERE ARE THE JOBS: Republicans Prevent Massive Tax Increase, Economy Begins to Improve....

Even by the standards of the most shameless hack, this is farcical. Worse, it's part of a growing pattern.

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), for example, argued two weeks ago, for example, that the recent good news -- private-sector job growth, big corporate profits, major gains in the major Wall Street indexes -- that occurred throughout 2010 were the result of Republican tax policies. As Kyl sees it, business leaders in early 2010 predicted the tax policy agreement crafted in late 2010, and started growing the economy based on their future-predicting abilities.

On Fox News last week, House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) offered a related argument, insisting that indications of economic improvements are "in large part" because Republicans "won our majority and we're pursuing pro-growth policies."

To reiterate a point from last week, this really is fascinating. The economy started growing again in 2009, with the stimulus giving the economy a boost. We saw growth continue throughout 2010 -- even after those rascally Democrats passed health care reform and Wall Street reform -- while Republicans said Dems were killing the economy.

And now we have several Republican leaders arguing that the same tax rates that were in place last year (and the year before that, and the year before that), coupled with economic policies that haven't even been voted on, deserve the credit for more optimistic projections.

So to review, Republicans in the Bush era brought the global economy to the brink of catastrophic collapse; Obama and congressional Dems helped turn things around; and now those same Republicans whose policies failed want credit for Democratic successes.

I know some folks will find this persuasive, and maybe even some of these GOP officials have deluded themselves into believing their own rhetoric. But it doesn't make the argument any less ridiculous.

Steve Benen 10:15 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (23)

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Kyl is close.

Business leaders were a little nervous about the GOP taking over the house. However, they saw that between the tea-partiers, the birthers, and the nitwits, the House would be bound up tighter than a constipated elephant, unable to complete even the simplest of tasks. When they realized that the economy would be safe from GOP meddling, they decided that growth was possible.

Time will tell if their risk was worth it.

Posted by: bignose on January 24, 2011 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

And you know, without that Republican victory in November, we wouldn't have a Blue Collar Super Bowl like we have coming up in Pittsburgh vs. Green Bay.
No, it would have been the some gay game like the San Fransico 49er's* vs. the New York Jets, or something.
This is the same logic they're trying to use.

*And yes, I know the 49er's weren't really serious contenders this year. But, hey, they might have gotten into a higher gear if Democrats had held the House.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on January 24, 2011 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Anybody who gets hired from this day forward will thank the Republicans- because they will be told to.

-Was it JFK that said success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan?

Posted by: DAY on January 24, 2011 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

the only thing Americans will notice in 2012 (if there is a good or bad economy) is "who is the President?" It was not truly apropos in 2010, and it wont be in 2012, but that is how the mushy-middle will do it. So all of this from the GOP is spitting into the wind.

Posted by: eric on January 24, 2011 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

They are providing talking points for their minions that run around blogs and repeat this stuff ad naseum. The partisans don't care if there is nothing to back it.

Here's the thing though. What these Republicans are now trying to push fits right into their Ayn Rand way of thinking. See, business leaders were all going Galt until they saw Republicans were going to take over. All those leaders emerged from their caves to spend and hire again!

Posted by: mikefromArlington on January 24, 2011 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

All good things are the result of republican policies (even when they aren't) and bad things are the result of "liberals and Democrats (even when they aren't)

That is the Republican story and they are sticking to it.

Posted by: atlliberal on January 24, 2011 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

"shameless hacks" Just about sums up the whole Republican operation, Faux news and anyone associated with the above.

Posted by: John R on January 24, 2011 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

-Was it JFK that said success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan?


Posted by: Todd for VT House on January 24, 2011 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

Pretty hard to take credit when they obstructed everything. Why, if thats the case, they should obstruct their own agenda and the economy will super-recover.

Yah, riiiiight.

Posted by: Kill Bill on January 24, 2011 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

-maybe he was quoting Napoleon, after the Bay of Pigs fiasco. . .

Posted by: DAY on January 24, 2011 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

"I know some folks will find this persuasive"

Steve, the country is littered with people who will find this persuasive. If a large number of people take Beck, Palin, Limbaugh, Hannity, and the rest of Fox seriously, then the stupid is beyond repair. Over 2000 years ago the Greeks realized that "against stupidity even the gods contend in vain."

Posted by: Texas Aggie on January 24, 2011 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

About the only thing the democrats have done in the last 20 months or so is cut taxes. Whose idea was that? Who do you think should get the credit for an improving economy whether this helped or not, if it's the only thing anyone has to point to.

Posted by: mike on January 24, 2011 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

The FOX watchers are like those in Platos Allegory of the Cave.

If you freed them from their illusional reality they would be angry at you for freeing them from it.

Posted by: Kill Bill on January 24, 2011 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

The Bush tax cuts never expired and arent responsible for the economic gains

Posted by: Kill Bill on January 24, 2011 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

This post answers the one on overly narrow expectations. The Republicans are well aware of the positive signs of more robust economic growth. They will pretty much have to conclude that the president has moved towards the center or even farther to the right in order to claim the economic victories over the next two years. Whatever he does, however, will be criticized as not moving far enough right lest they wind up making him look re-electable. This is going to take some mighty fancy footwork to pull off.

Posted by: Peter G on January 24, 2011 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

At least they are consistent.

First Republican claimed that Obama was responsible for job losses that occurred before any of his policies were implemented, even though the the economy started shedding jobs long before Obama was elected.

Now Republicans claim they are responsible for an gradually improving employment outlook that started before any of their policies have been implemented, even though the economy started (slowly) adding jobs after Obama's policies were first implemented.

Posted by: tanstaafl on January 24, 2011 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Of course the Republicans are trying to take credit for the rebounding economy. After all they are politicans. That is what politicians do. Most Americans will look at who is in the White House and reward him accordingly. I for one am not too worried about their claims unless Democrats decude to let Republican's make the claim unchallenged.

I am more worried about Comcast taking over MSNBC.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 24, 2011 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

"So to review, Republicans in the Bush era brought the global economy to the brink of catastrophic collapse; Obama and congressional Dems helped turn things around; and now those same Republicans whose policies failed want credit for Democratic successes."

It's better than that. To review:

The economy was awesome when Bush and the Republicans were running things. Once the Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, big business (which is the only group of people who count in America) started getting nervous, so things started getting worse, and around the summer of 2008, they realized Obama was going to get elected, so they tanked the economy because they knew things were going to be so awful. The Dow began to climb in early 2009 because the awesome Bush policies couldn't be thwarted by Obama's socialism ("Is this the Bush recovery?" Neil Cavuto asked), and a month or so later, they realized that the House would be taken over by grownups who BOAST that they have no plan for doing anything to improve the country, so they made things awesome again.

I just lost about four IQ points typing that.

Posted by: Rick Massimo on January 24, 2011 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

There is one thing I will give Republicans credit for since the election HIGHER GAS PRICES!!!!!.

Check this chart -
US Retail Gas Prices for last 6 months

Notice the steep climb occuring exactly on November 3rd

Average retail cost for gas is up 10% since the election of Republicans

Coincidenece I think not
The oil industry rightly assumed that with a divided Congress the chance of Regulatory oversight would greatly diminish with an Oil friendly Republican House

Posted by: lib4 on January 24, 2011 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

"I know some folks will find this persuasive..."

Two words...Cokie Roberts.

Posted by: Chesire11 on January 24, 2011 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

One thing that will DEFINITELY help the economy is that the GOP has finally stopped talking its condition down ... now that they want credit for improving conditions.

One of the great intangibles of the last two years is how much the relentless doom talk from the right has served to depress the animal spirits of the marketplace, harmed business and consumer confidence, and held back spending and hiring. It is not the sort of thing that you can quantify - but the shaping of negative opinion has got to matter. Consider, for example, the damage that Rush Limbaugh's "government motors" tirades appear to have done to GM's already damaged reputation, as GM struggles to reassemble itself and get people to buy their products.

So ... this development sort of like relief when a mugger stops beating you, takes your wallet, and runs. You are still in pain, and the mugger is getting away with robbery, but at least they aren't making it worse anymore.

Posted by: Bokonon on January 24, 2011 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

Alternative Realities - we have known for some time that Republicans inhabit a different universe than the rest of us. Remember a few years ago when the a White House aide commented that "when we act, we create our own reality"? In this case, causality has no meaning - events occur all at once, and the appearance of continuity is misleading. In such a universe, why not present whatever view will best support your emergence as a more powerful being?

I have been looking at this wrong all along - Republicans are at the forefront of a multiple-universe, Heisenbergian world view. Forthwith, I must adapt my own thinking to embrace whatever I WANT as what IS.

Hallelujah! Born Again.

Posted by: Ned Roberts on January 24, 2011 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

My question is, if the economy is rebounding due to the president and republicans working together why didn't they do that the first two years? And this tax cut deal is all of a month old people have felt its effects for maybe 2 pay checks it makes no sense to say it has something to do with it.

Posted by: allamr18 on January 24, 2011 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK



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