Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 2, 2011

THE GOP JOBS PITCH (AND WHY IT'S WRONG).... Sensitive to economic realities and public opinion, Democrats and their allies are largely obsessed with the issue of job creation. Every issue, speech, and priority is filtered through a specific lens -- here's what Dem priorities have to do with jobs.

Republicans and the right are obviously on a very different page. Reader W.J. emailed this morning to note that NewsMax ran an online poll today, asking readers what Congress' top priority should be in 2011 -- creating jobs and economic growth didn't even make the list of options.

But Slate's John Dickerson had a good piece late yesterday, noting that as far as the GOP is concerned, their top economic priorities -- taking money out of the economy, ending public investments, putting more public-sector workers out of work -- are about jobs.

The two parties are making opposite bets about what the public really thinks about the deficit. The president is betting that people don't see an iron connection between reducing the deficit and increasing the number of jobs. When they judge who is doing more for them -- the GOP or the president -- they will pick the person optimistic about the future, not the guys preaching pain.

Republicans get this, so they're working hard to reiterate that their deficit agenda is a jobs agenda: Jobs will be lost if the deficit isn't reduced drastically. They've produced 222 economists who make this case. They'll have to do better than that, because the White House can bus in their own fleet of economists.

Short and sharp is what is needed to rebut Captain Win the Future. So far, the message needs some work: "By running up the spending money we don't have, running up the huge budget deficits, we create more uncertainty in the private sector," says House Speaker John Boehner, who then becomes almost tautological. "This is where cutting spending will create jobs because it is going to bring greater fiscal responsibility in Washington, D.C., end some of the uncertainty, and allow jobs to be created in America."

In some ways, it's at least mildly reassuring that Republicans haven't given up on reducing unemployment altogether, at least from their limited ideological perspective. There is an argument lurking behind their rhetoric -- large deficits will raise interest rates, lead to higher inflation, and cause economic pain at some point. Drastic austerity now will prevent even-more-drastic austerity later.

At least, that's the pitch. There are some fairly dramatic flaws in the argument. First, when the unemployment rate is as high as it is, and interest rates are already extremely low, Republicans are ignoring one problem that does exist, focusing on a separate problem that doesn't exist. Besides, the "uncertainty" canard has been debunked repeatedly -- businesses will hire more when they have more customers.

Second, I'd be far more inclined to take Republican fears about the deficit seriously if they weren't constantly taking steps to make the deficit worse. It was the GOP that demanded massive tax breaks late last year, and didn't even try to pay for them. It was also the GOP that made health care repeal its top priority, despite the fact that repeal would add hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit.

Third, if Republicans seriously considered the deficit/debt a scourge that would destroy civilization as we know it, they'd (a) actually work in good faith with Democrats on ideas that could pass; and (b) stop working so hard on tangential, culture-war issues like abortion, school vouchers, and D.C. marriage rights.

Finally -- and this is the kicker -- the best way to reduce the deficit in a hurry is to create jobs and grow the economy.

I'm glad there's an actual thought pattern to the Republican economic agenda. I'd be even more pleased if it made sense.

Steve Benen 10:45 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (13)

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NewsMax polls aren't real polls.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on February 2, 2011 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

The GOP are betting that, even if the jobs situation gets no better in the next 18 months or even worse, then the voters will punish Obama and not them. So they are looking at a win-win situation. If jobs are created (highly unlikely), they can say it is because their deflationary policy succeeded. If they aren't(much more likely), they'll say that business can't be expected to invest in jobs while there's a communist in the White House.

Posted by: davidp on February 2, 2011 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

I'm glad there's an actual thought pattern to the Republican economic agenda. I'd be even more pleased if it made sense.

The Republican agenda makes perfect sense. Their revealed truth says that all they have to do is cut the taxes of millionaires (again) and deregulate corporations (again). Then this time for sure the Supply-side Fairy will flutter across the countryside and sprinkle her magical pixie dust over the economy to ensure that no one ever gets sick, bridges and roads never wear out and every child's test scores will be above average. Oh, and every deserving American will have a job.

The Supply-side Fairy will be here any minute now . . . .

Aannny minute . . . .

Okay, maybe if they sacrifice a goat . . . .

Posted by: SteveT on February 2, 2011 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

If uncertainty is the big problem, then why does the nature of the solution even matter? We could pass single payer, carbon taxes, EFCA - voila! No more uncertainty! Jobs and prosperity follow, and everyone is happy, even the banksters.

So maybe it's not uncertainty that Boehner is talking about? Maybe he and the GOP have some other agenda? Hard to imagine they're not being upfront about everything... maybe this is worth looking into?

Posted by: Proudhon on February 2, 2011 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Let me once again explain Supply Side Economics to you...

1) All of the jobs in this country are created by the supply side (accumulated wealth).
2) Decreasing taxes on accumulated wealth increases the number of jobs in the country.
3) Increasing taxes on those without accumulated wealth does not cause losses of jobs.
4) Increasing spending on those with accumulated wealth increases their accumulated wealth and creates jobs.
5) Decreasing spending on those without accumlated wealth will not cause losses of jobs.
6) The most important things to be done at the federal level are to reduce overall spending and to create jobs.
7) Lower marginal tax rates for those with accumulated wealth will increase revenues (see Lauffer Curve).

Therefore, to reduce overall spending and increase tax revenues and increase the availability of jobs, it is imperative that the following actions be taken:
- Decrease the top marginal tax rates
- Increase the bottom tax rates
- Decrease spending on those without accumulated wealth
> especially the unemployed and elderly
- Increase subsidies of corporations widely owned by those with accumulated wealth
> especially defense spending

Benen should be pleased as this makes great sense to those of us who are the job creators of the country! Plus, we now have more than 30 years of history to prove that the trickle down effect of supply side economics works!

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on February 2, 2011 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

It's all a game to the GOP; I win, you lose. I get the money and the babes/boys, and you don't.

If you don't believe this, you haven't been paying attention. . .

Posted by: DAY on February 2, 2011 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

We can laugh at Republican chutzpah but there are specific reasons why their mythology enthralls not only the rubes but the Village and other elite opinion. The every-man-for-himself philosophy didn't occur in a vacuum. American society has been shedding most of its buffers, ties, and sense of mutual obligation for a couple of generations now. If you don't feel bound to your neighbor (you know, the one you wave at but don't know) then it's likely you won't care if he sinks or swims. The essential nihilism of Republican messaging is also the nihilism of our social lives.

Posted by: walt on February 2, 2011 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

re DAY...

You are full of b.s.! I win, you lose. I get the money and the POWER. The babes/boys are just a side benefit!

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on February 2, 2011 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

In Texas, the political laboratory of right leaning Republicans, we have an estimated 27 billion budget shortfall. Our legislature meets for 140 days every two years so this is at least a 13.5 billion per year deficit. Ten billion a year if my math is correct can be directly attributed to tax swaps, property tax reductions/ restrictions, and a "Gross Profit Margins Tax" that went into effect in 2006. Education is likely going to take the largest hit with tens of thousands of teachers and thousands of public, (state employees) losing their jobs if we don't use our "Rainy Day Fund" estimated at 9.4 billion dollars. The anti-Washington governor and the legislature balanced the budget with federal stimulus funds two years ago. Instead of working on the deficit, the legislature is passing one of the most strict voter I.D. laws in the U.S., working on bills to have police officers on all levels determine immigration status of anyone that comes in contact with law enforcement, and a sonogram bill that forces abortion patients to view a sonogram. Even in Texas, where are the jobs and why aren't we working on the budget?

Posted by: Kenneth D. Franks on February 2, 2011 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

-RepublicanPointOfView, I know an angry old vet who begs to differ- and is ready and able to kick your butt!

Posted by: DAY on February 2, 2011 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

Even George H.W. Bush called "Supply Side Economics"
"Voodoo Economics" before he became Reagan's vice president. Also even Saint Reagan wouldn't be accepted by today's right. He would be too liberal.

Posted by: Kenneth D. Franks on February 2, 2011 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK


Thank you so much for clearly and honestly delineating the utter moral depravity of contemporary Republicans. Don't spend money on the elderly, that doesn't enrich the oligarchs. Got it!

Accumulated wealth, as you so kindly put it, is accumulated, not spent. Witness the fact that the most effective economic stimulus, in terms of putting the dollars back into the economy, IS unemployment insurance checks! What drives jobs? DEMAND! What do oligarchs demand? A lot less than the 98% rest of the country, who actually spend the money that they earn (unfortunately too much of it, but that's another story). We're a consumer-based economy (willing to argue that?) and when we have less jobs, we have less consumers. Unfortunately, it's not as easy as your linear one-two-three to explain -- the dynamics of our 21st century social reality rarely are.

Thank you again for proving that Republican = fuck everyone else, including the elderly, the poor, the unemployed, and the standard of living for America, and as a bonus, proving that Republicans love the simplicity of pablum. If it sounds good but means nothing, you're all over it.

Fuck you and the rich assholes you rode in on.

Posted by: Loquaciouslaura on February 2, 2011 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Let's make this as simple as possible:

The GOP doesn't care about the deficit. They don't care.

They care about destroying government, and the deficit is simply a convenient tool to use to destroy government. Now, once they hold the Senate and the White House, they'll continue to destroy anything that helps people who need help, and simply give all the money to their rich constituents in the M/I complex, and other corporate bastions.

The deficit is just a McGuffin for the GOP. An excuse to lay waste to the country, so that the brown people won't get anything from the white people.

Posted by: LL on February 2, 2011 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK



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