Political Animal


September 08, 2011 4:10 PM Bernanke has no use for GOP economic agenda

By Steve Benen

Only congressional Republicans could make a Republican Federal Reserve chairman, first appointed by George W. Bush, sound like a center-left Democrat.

Sounding a bit like a broken record, Ben Bernanke once again urged lawmakers to not put the recovery at risk as they focus on slashing government spending over the long haul.

While the Federal Reserve Chairman’s comments were nothing new, they seemed perfectly timed to coincide with the first meeting of the 12-member bipartisan debt super committee Thursday.

“While prompt and decisive action to put the federal government’s finances on a sustainable trajectory is urgently needed, fiscal policymakers should not, as a consequence, disregard the fragility of the economic recovery,” Bernanke said in a speech in Minneapolis.

He added today, “In the absence of adequate demand from the private sector, a substantial fiscal consolidation in the shorter term could add to the headwinds facing economic growth and hiring.”

Psst, Republicans, I think he’s talking to you.

Bernanke didn’t break new ground, necessarily, but he did remind everyone that while it would be responsible to pursue long-term debt reduction, cutting government spending in the short term would undermine the economy.

“Fortunately, the two goals — achieving fiscal sustainability … and avoiding creation of fiscal headwinds for the recovery — are not incompatible,” he said.

If this all seems rather familiar, there’s a good reason for that. Bernanke has steadily been pleading with policymakers not to adopt congressional Republicans’ agenda.

In July, the Fed chairman told Congress that “sharp and excessive cuts in the very short term would be potentially damaging to that recovery.” In August, Bernanke not-so-subtly urged Congress to adopt a short-term stimulus to give the economy a boost.

And now he’s making the same case again today.

Taken together, we see the Federal Reserve, the CBO, economists, the financial industry, the bond market, and business leaders all saying more or less the same thing: don’t approve drastic spending cuts, do approve short-term stimulus.

Congressional Republicans, for whatever reason, don’t seem to care. Perhaps it’s because improving the economy isn’t in their “interests”?

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.


Post a comment
  • kevo on September 08, 2011 4:37 PM:

    How can we expect Congressional Republicans to get on board with efforts to right our economy when 120% of their efforts are alread focused on making America safe again for white people! -Kevo

  • T2 on September 08, 2011 4:44 PM:

    I was interested in the GOPers debate last night, when all of them said they'd fire Bernanke immediately if elected. I wish the "moderators" had reminded them that George W. Bush appointed him. But I guess they aren't allowed to mention George anymore.

  • rrk1 on September 08, 2011 5:04 PM:

    Perhaps it's not in the interests of the Rethugs to see an improving economy?

    Really? Are we giving them the benefit of the doubt?

  • just bill on September 08, 2011 5:26 PM:

    no so subtly urged? are you kidding? he should stand up and say, "if you guys keep up with this shit you're going to cause a double dip recession. now knock it off." that would be not so subtle.

  • Texas Aggie on September 08, 2011 8:48 PM:

    Perhaps it's because improving he economy isn't in their "interests"?

    You think? Can you remember the last time republicans have done something against their interests for the benefit of the country? If you aren't old enough to remember their revolt against Nixon, then you can't.