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August 25, 2011 4:25 PM Struggling with the basics

By Steve Benen

I’ve long considered Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) one of the more special members of Congress, ever since he argued in a committee hearing that it would be wrong to reduce carbon emissions because the pollution is “plant food.” Shimkus rhetorically asked his colleagues, “[I]f we decrease the use of carbon dioxide, are we not taking away plant food from the atmosphere?”

It helped clue us in as to what kind of policymaker the Illinois Republican really is.

With that in mind, this week, Shimkus argued, in writing, “While private sector employment has declined under President Obama’s watch, the president’s record on government job creation is unmatched for his time in office.” [emphasis in the original]

Now, I don’t expect every member of Congress to be a policy wonk, and I realize some economic issues can be hard to understand at times. But given the jobs crisis, high unemployment, and the fact that policymakers have tried to address an economic downturn that began way back in 2007, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that federal lawmakers at least keep up on the basics.

This is especially true when making a policy point in writing. It’s easy to slip up on a relevant detail while speaking — we’ve all done that — but when presenting an important argument in print about the nation’s most pressing crisis, it’s important not to mislead the public.

And in this case, Shimkus has simply flipped reality on its head. The private sector isn’t shedding jobs; it’s gaining jobs. Public-sector jobs haven’t grown at a record pace; they’ve slipped badly — as Republicans demanded — and are serving as a drag on the larger economy.

This isn’t some complex detail that only select experts are aware of; this is the sort of thing any observer of current events who cares about job policy notices on the first day. Here’s a great chart that Matt Finkelstein put together to help drive the point home:

On a related note, reader C.B. emailed today to note that Shimkus will receive an award from the National Association of Community Health Centers tomorrow, “for his role in expanding health care access to uninsured and underserved individuals.

Shimkus, of course, voted this year to take away health care coverage for millions of uninsured and underserved individuals, and rejected legislation that invests $11 billion in bolstering and expanding community health centers over the next 5 years.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

Comments

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  • efgoldman on August 25, 2011 4:36 PM:

    Its very clear (and becoming clearer every day) that Zombie Lewis Carroll has come back and taken the whole damned world through the damned looking glass.
    I mean, there's no rational explanation for this crap. None.

    capthca algorithm fectsid

  • Redshift on August 25, 2011 4:47 PM:

    He's sure it must be true. It fits his ideology, and it's much more convenient for him politically if it's true. Why should he check before stating it as fact?

  • nemisten on August 25, 2011 4:48 PM:

    Have to respectfully disagree, ef.

    This is standard playbook for these guys: Read the puppetmaster's script, and if it's a LIE, so what? The corporate media won't call 'em out, and neither will Dem's. So they have free reign to just make BS up and hope it sticks. Sadly, much of it does. Sigh.

  • Redshift on August 25, 2011 4:49 PM:

    Its very clear (and becoming clearer every day) that Zombie Lewis Carroll has come back and taken the whole damned world through the damned looking glass.

    That would also explain the severe shortage of braiiiins!

  • Joy on August 25, 2011 5:50 PM:

    I, regrettably, live in his district and I have never understood how this man ever got elected except for the fact that most of downstate Illinois is heavily Republican. He doesn't hold town halls in my area (Springfield) and you rarely see anything in the paper about him. I am sure it's because he really doesn't do much of anything except collect a paycheck in Washington. At first he promised to respect term limits, but once he found out just what a great gig he had going, he dropped that pretense and we can't get rid of him. I may be wrong, but he also graduated from I believe West Point. It baffles me.

  • exlibra on August 25, 2011 5:51 PM:

    [...] Shimkus will receive an award from the National Association of Community Health Centers tomorrow [...]

    Sounds like a whole bunch of fools. So, who are they? And are they tax-exempt?

  • Josef K on August 25, 2011 7:00 PM:

    Personally, I blame the decline of primary education in this country. Maybe then dunces like Shimkus (god, the puns just write themselves!) would've been better prepared for the real world.

    Or not. You just can't tell with some people.

  • danimal on August 25, 2011 7:59 PM:

    I'm waiting for the quote. You know it's coming. It will look like this: "I don't believe your statistics are true. I'll have to look into the matter."

    Gawd, it's sure easy to dodge questions as a Republican lawmaker.

    capcha: tricom sent

  • LL on August 25, 2011 9:23 PM:

    So...Shimkus is getting this award because why? Exactly? Can someone, anyone, explain this?

  • Texas Aggie on August 25, 2011 9:43 PM:

    Shimkus will receive an award from the National Association of Community Health Centers

    I would guess that it is some sort of a booby prize, maybe a fiber glass impregnated cow pie.

  • Anonymous on August 25, 2011 9:48 PM:

    "the president’s record on government job creation is unmatched for his time in office.”

    Well, yes. No other president in recent times has cut government jobs as much as Obama has. This is just an example of half-truthing, where he says the truth, but implies what is a lie.

  • POed Lib on August 25, 2011 10:47 PM:

    Shimkus, or Pimpkus as I call him, ran the Page Board in 2004. He learned of the inappropriate and predatory behavior of Mark Foley, and chose to not inform other members of the Page Board, allowing Foley to prey on pages for 2-3 years longer. The guy should be in jail.

  • ChicagoRob on August 25, 2011 11:49 PM:

    Uh ... why is he getting an award for doing something that, in fact, he did not do? That he worked actively against? That's surpassingly odd.

  • Marc on August 26, 2011 6:56 AM:

    Does he deserve the Jon Kyle award?
    Or, like many others in the Repub party, is it that what he believes is the truth, reality is a just devilish distraction?

  • Anonymous on August 26, 2011 5:55 PM:

    A Google search on this:

    "national association of community health centers" "defender award"

    turns up a fair number of these awards (more than one per year, anyway), including one to Congressman Joe Courtney, in August 2011:

    http://www.theday.com/article/20110821/BIZ02/308219943/-1/BIZ

    and no press release from the trade association making the award to Shimkus

  • yellowdog on August 26, 2011 11:58 PM:

    The voters of Illinois should have done the country a favor after the Mark Foley incident and canned this guy.

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