Political Animal


August 23, 2011 10:40 AM What ‘every economist’ thinks

By Steve Benen

Any chance the debt-reduction “super committee” will consider measures to create jobs? No, House Speaker John Boehner’s office said yesterday.

The response: Deficit reduction will spur job creation and, therefore, the supercommittee does not need to take on an additional mission.

“As every economist and every rating agency has made clear, getting our deficit under control is the first step to help get our economy growing again and to create jobs,” said Michael Steel, spokesman for Boehner.

Now, Steel’s assessment is almost comically ridiculous, but it’s a lie that’s ridiculous in important ways. As Jamison Foser explained, the line from Boehner’s office is “almost perfect in its wrongness. Not only because the very idea of “every economist” agreeing on the color of the sky, much less the best way to cause the economy to grow, is laugh-out-loud funny, but because of the widespread belief among economists that Steel’s formula is exactly backwards — that, in fact, the best way to get the deficit under control is to create jobs and fix the economy.”

I especially liked Steel’s line about rating agencies, since S&P blamed Republicans for the downgrade, in part because — you guessed it — Republicans won’t consider new revenue.

But if the Speaker’s office is sincerely interested in what “every economist” thinks, I’d recommend Boehner and his aides read this recent piece on the scope of the opposition to the Republican economic agenda.

The boasts of Congressional Republicans about their cost-cutting victories are ringing hollow to some well-known economists, financial analysts and corporate leaders, including some Republicans, who are expressing increasing alarm over Washington’s new austerity and antitax orthodoxy.

Their critiques have grown sharper since last week, when President Obama signed his deficit reduction deal with Republicans and, a few days later, when Standard & Poor’s downgraded the credit rating of the United States.

But even before that, macroeconomists and private sector forecasters were warning that the direction in which the new House Republican majority had pushed the White House and Congress this year — for immediate spending cuts, no further stimulus measures and no tax increases, ever — was wrong for addressing the nation’s two main ills, a weak economy now and projections of unsustainably high federal debt in coming years.

Instead, these critics say, Washington should be focusing on stimulating the economy in the near term to induce people to spend money and create jobs, while settling on a long-term plan for spending cuts and tax increases to take effect only after the economy recovers.

But Republicans in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail refuse to back down.

If the “every economist” line from Boehner’s office isn’t nominated for Lie of the Year, I’ll be very disappointed.

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.


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  • berttheclock on August 23, 2011 10:45 AM:

    Since when did Robert Samuelson of the WaPo, morph into "every economist"?

  • walt on August 23, 2011 10:53 AM:

    We'll see how "every economist" might as well be Paul Krugman after the Republicans win next year. There's no secret going on here. Republicans have the spending habits of a coked-up starlet in her third marriage to a hedge-fund manager. All this fiscal rectitude of the past three years was the role of her lifetime. And now the greatest payday of all approaches.

    As for the Tea Party zealots, they'll thank their white God in heaven that the Muslim darkie is finally out of their lives.

  • jcricket on August 23, 2011 10:54 AM:

    Sounds to me like the Job Killing Republicans are in denial once again.

  • c u n d gulag on August 23, 2011 10:59 AM:

    Just like if there's one paid climate scientist who disagrees with global warming, if there's one economist, paid or ignorant, who thinks reducing deficits is the best thing to do short and long term for our economy, they can advertise if as "most" or "all."

    It's up to the MSM to take apart and explain the bullshit.

    But why take apart what you're not paid to take apart; and why explain that which you're not paid to explain.

    I don't blame the politians for lying. They've been doing it since politics bagan.

    I blame the MSM for being either lazy, uninterested, cowered, compliant, or complicit.

    Our current "Fourth Estate" isn't worth a bucket of warm piss.

  • Sukey on August 23, 2011 11:21 AM:

    My Republican Rep sent out a mailer email about the BBA. Don't you think this is what they will talk about instead of jobs.

  • Eeyore on August 23, 2011 11:24 AM:

    Ahem... I have a Ph.D. in economics, and work as professional economist here in DC. Now, I don't work on macroeconomic issues, but in working with a very large staff of highly trained economists I can assure you the idea that "every economist" will agree on ANYTHING is ludicrous.

    It's like the old one-liner... if every economist in the world were laid end-to-end they would all point in different directions.

  • low-tech cyclist on August 23, 2011 11:25 AM:

    In other news, a GOP spokesman said today, "As every astronomer and every university physics department has made clear, the moon is made of green cheese."

  • stormskies on August 23, 2011 11:27 AM:

    the below link is what 'most economists' think/ know about the reasons for the financial cataclysms that recently happened, and will be happening again. Hint: the destructive power of the various financial markets reflecting an out of control capitalism ... it is well worth your time to read this ...


  • Extreme Moderate on August 23, 2011 11:30 AM:

    Steve, lets call it like it is: for the Republicans, focusing on the deficit is code for gutting every single new deal program. FIscal austerity can be used as a justification for anything, from cutting entitlements to rolling back EPA regulations to abolishing the department of energy..The real agenda is to move us back to the 1880s...

    And next time you hear a republican say "we can't afford it", the real answer is "we choose not to afford it"...

    This is the opportunity of a lifetime for these guys - explains why they are fighting so hard.

  • dweb on August 23, 2011 11:40 AM:

    Dear GOP:

    We followed your formula. We cut taxes for the past 12 years, even in the face of two wars you started and a horribly structured Drug Reform bill. That's what you told us we needed to do to "stimulate the economy and create new jobs."

    So today, here we sit with the worst unemployment scenario since the Great Depression, corporations in many cases paying no taxes and even getting refunds, while sitting on record mountains of profit.

    So where's the jobs? Where's the prosperity? Where's the validation of your theory?
    Crickets. Anyone, anyone...Buehler?

  • square1 on August 23, 2011 11:45 AM:

    I don't even know where to begin with this nonsense. A super-committee on deficit reduction is the deal that President Obama cut. He didn't cut a deal on job creation. He cut a deal on deficit reduction. And he, repeatedly, said that he preferred the deal to a clean bill. So this is what we have. A super-committee tasked with reducing the debt and not creating jobs. Funny how that works. Oh, wait...it must all be the Republicans' fault.

    Maybe if President Obama hadn't been saying things like this over the past year then he could have leveraged public support for short-term stimulus into the debt-ceiling deal:

    "We are living with a legacy of deficit spending that began almost a decade ago. And in the wake of the financial crisis, some of that was necessary to keep credit flowing, save jobs, and put money in people's pockets.

    But now that the worst of the recession is over, we have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in. [...]

    So tonight, I am proposing that starting this year, we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years."

    Is Benen now going to claim that Boehner wrote Obama's SOTU address?

  • Walt on August 23, 2011 11:49 AM:

    I agree that Boehner doesn't know what he's talking about -- but the National Association of Business Economists released a survey of their members yesterday saying they were opposed to new taxes. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/22/taxes-cuts-economists_n_932697.html Now, this is an industry group I'd expect to agree with Boehner, and technically "every economist" in NABE agrees with him, so I think he's pretending NABE speaks for every economist in the world. Thoughts?

  • Tony D. on August 23, 2011 11:56 AM:

    Our hope? The 72% that constitute the left and center. Boner knows these flat out lies will resonate with the 28% true believers ("the world is flat" crowd). We need to convince the non-strawman portion of the population that Boner and his GOP cronies are a bunch of liars who care only for the rich. Time for Obama and the Dems to get nasty!

  • Kevin on August 23, 2011 2:11 PM:

    I knew Krugman would betray us progressives sooner or later.