Political Animal


September 13, 2011 3:15 PM Elmendorf all but endorses American Jobs Act

By Steve Benen

It’s a good thing congressional Republicans “do not accept the legitimacy of scholars and intellectual authorities,” or by now, they’d start to feel pretty discouraged.

Today, Doug Elmendorf, the director of the Congressional Budget Office, spoke to members of the Murray/Hensarling super committee, at their first official hearing. He didn’t explicitly endorse President Obama’s American Jobs Act, but the CBO chief certainly endorsed the White House’s larger approach to the economy.

Elmendorf ‘s message: to avoid slowing the economy even further, the deficit must get worse before it gets better. “If policymakers wanted to achieve both a short-term economic boost and medium- and long-term fiscal sustainability,” Elmendorf said, the “most effective” policy would be “changes in taxes and spending that would widen the deficit now but narrow it later in the decade.”

So, the director of the CBO wants to see a short-term boost in spending, a rejection of efforts to impose sharp short-term budget cuts, and a longer-term approach to debt reduction, including possible tax increases.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because President Obama wants the same thing, and has made this approach the basis for his American Jobs Act.

As Brian Beutler noted, the CBO chief wants “legislation that spends money to hire people and reduces payroll taxes in the near-term, and that reduces deficits by even greater amounts in the middle and end of the decade.”

Elmendorf even went so far as tout the benefits of a payroll tax break — which Obama wants and which Republicans oppose — as having the most significant economic impact.

Taken together, every credible observer with a pulse — the Fed, the CBO, a wide variety of economists, the financial industry, the bond market, business leaders — are all saying more or less the same thing. They all want policymakers to approve short-term stimulus and oppose drastic short-term budget cuts. GOP officials, of course, desperately want to do the opposite.

It’s against this backdrop that House Republicans believe “every economist” agrees the GOP is on the right track. It’s hard to overstate how ridiculous that claim really is.

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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  • davidp on September 13, 2011 3:26 PM:

    Looks like these economists all belong with Mr Bernanke on the "treasonous" list.

  • Mimikatz on September 13, 2011 3:33 PM:

    Every economist who relies on prayer and/or entrail reading or is on the Koch payroll agrees with them

    It is sort of lie global warming. Companies know better, but they still finance garbage that they think will bring them benefits in the short run. It may be getting harder and harder to do that, as a failing economy doesn't really help most of them. I had hoped the Chamber would put some muscle behind the infrastructure spending, but so far nothing. Maybe a few more bridges in Ohio and Kentucky need to fail first.

  • just bill on September 13, 2011 3:34 PM:

    who are these commie socialists anyway?

  • Josef K on September 13, 2011 3:36 PM:

    It’s against this backdrop that House Republicans believe “every economist” agrees the GOP is on the right track. It’s hard to overstate how ridiculous that claim really is.

    To be fair, its frequently stated (here and elsewhere amongst the sane political commentariat) that Republicans now live in their own little fantasyland. They're probably referring to the economists who live in there, as opposed to here in the real world.

    Funny thing, those fantasyland economists all seem to ressemble The Tax Fairy. Could they be one in the same?

  • slappy magoo on September 13, 2011 3:47 PM:

    Republican claims don't have to be based in fact. They just have to be MADE. That MAKES them fact.

  • bleh on September 13, 2011 3:50 PM:

    I think what every economist might agree on is that the GOP is on the right track for the GOP.

    Wealthy individuals and corporations are doing just fine, thank you.

  • Peter C on September 13, 2011 3:53 PM:

    The Republicans will just treat this as more superfluous noise from the "reality-based" community.

  • kevo on September 13, 2011 4:04 PM:

    Until Americans realize the only way to move forward, positively, is to bring political death to the Republican party, for until the Republicans are punished at the polls, they'll continue this take no prisoners shit they've become good at ever since Tricky Dick Nixon was in the WH! -Kevo

  • bondwooley on September 13, 2011 4:11 PM:

    It's too bad President Obama didn't take a minute and 20 seconds to sell the Jobs Act this way:


  • Anonymous on September 13, 2011 5:35 PM:

    The media makes the GOP seem to be both full of 'stars' and on equal footing with Democrats.

    But new polls are showing the Dems and independents who either stayed home or went the other way are flocking back to Obama for 2012.

    So, with 11% approvals giving them no pause whatsoever, the GOP will obviously continue on its destructive spiral until they are tossed out by the voters.

    How could they not be tossed out? NO ONE LIKES THEM OR THEIR POLICIES.

    The GOP are just creeps who are acting like 1930s fascists trying to prove, by precept and example, that democracy just can't function and we should turn it all over to the rich to run.