Political Animal


November 09, 2011 10:40 AM John Boehner’s ‘economists’

By Steve Benen

In recent months, economists have been offered two competing approaches to job creation in the U.S. President Obama’s agenda, which is popular in national public-opinion polls, enjoys considerable support among independent economists. The Republican alternative, such as it is, has been largely rejected — one independent economist took a look at the GOP plan and concluded that it would fail to help the economy in the short term, and might even “push the economy back into recession.”

And that leaves Republicans in a bit of a bind. How can they claim the policy high ground on jobs when annoying experts, relying on pesky facts, keep reporting that the GOP approach wouldn’t help the economy?

Yesterday, Republican leaders came up with a scheme to cloud the debate. If USA Today’s headline is any indication, the scheme worked like a charm. The paper told readers: “Economists: GOP jobs plan better than Obama’s.”

Speaker John Boehner released a list today of 132 economists who say the House GOP plan to boost private-sector employment is a better option than President Obama’s plan. […]

The Boehner list is a retort to Obama’s call to have independent analysts compare the GOP plan with his. Those surveyed by Boehner include economists from Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, Carnegie Mellon University, American Enterprise Institute and the Manhattan Institute — fairly conservative institutions. Boehner said the economists’ support for the GOP plan is further proof that Obama needs to engage Republicans.

Even for Boehner, this is just sad.

The Republican “list stunts” never go well. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), for example, will occasionally claim to have a list of 700 “prominent scientists” who agree with him that all climate data is a communist conspiracy. When one looks a little closer at the list, we find that it features economists, some weathermen, some scientists on ExxonMobil’s payroll, and a few qualified experts who disagree with Inhofe and who’ve asked that their names be removed from his list. (He’s refused.)

The Speaker’s new list isn’t much better. One of the “economists” listed bills himself as an “anarcho-libertarian philosopher.” Another is an AEI activist who condemned First Lady Michelle Obama as “the product of lifelong affirmative-action coddling.” Another is a FreedomWorks staffer. Several were champions of the Bush/Cheney economic plan.

One is Art Laffer. Seriously.

The difference in approaches couldn’t be more striking. On the one hand, we have the White House, which produced a credible plan, invited independent scrutiny, and found support from independent economists. On the other, we have congressional Republicans, who found some like-minded ideologues to tell them how right they are.

What a waste. A Brookings study recently concluded, “The parties have not placed co-equal competing options [for job creation] on the table…. Honest Republicans know this.”

When someone finds an honest Republican willing to admit this, let me know.

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
  • dweb on November 09, 2011 10:47 AM:

    Honest Republican = army intelligence

    A true contradiction in terms

  • DAY on November 09, 2011 10:48 AM:

    9 out of 10 alcoholics say booze is healthy and nutritious.

  • Fleas correct the era on November 09, 2011 10:51 AM:

    A Brookings study recently concluded, "The parties have not placed co-equal competing options [for job creation] on the table…. Honest Republicans know this."

    When someone finds an honest newspaper willing to admit this, let me know.

  • Ron Byers on November 09, 2011 10:51 AM:

    But the Republican list was headlined in USA Today. Most people don't look past the headlines. The best Democrats can come up with is a counter list.

    All in all, however, the Republicans are losing and the economy is beginning to trend up. The Republican over reach is looking like a giant over reach. Their best chance to hold the house next year is their voter suppression campaign. Other than that they are likely to lose the house and Mitch McConnell will remain minority leader. Obama wins in a walk.

    What we need to do is spend a little time figuring out how to win 60 seats in the senate and how to really crush the tea party in the house.

  • biggerbox on November 09, 2011 10:55 AM:

    Ah, the oldies are the goodies, aren't they?

    "I have here in my hand a list of 205—a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department."

    Now Mr. Boehner, how about we hear "Mona Lisa". That was a great tune, too.

  • Ron Byers on November 09, 2011 10:55 AM:

    Actually what we really need to do is figure out how to get rid of the deadwood in the Democratic party establishment and how to rest control from the Wall Street crowd before they drag America into the ditch again.

  • blondie on November 09, 2011 10:57 AM:

    C'mon, Steve - there ARE no "honest" Republicans!

  • stormskies on November 09, 2011 11:00 AM:

    The vast majority of the Corporate Media is simply a criminal enterprise ... akin to the mafia ..... and it should be treated as a criminal activity but of course it won't be because, of course, those same corporations control everything in this country ...... so they hire these 'reporters' and 'journalists' to do exactly what they are told to do .. they are, after all, corporate employee's ... just ask the used corporate cum sluts like David Gregory, Brian Williams, et-al why they are paid the millions that they are by the corporations, like General Electric, what they are expected to do ... they know the truth of course but pretend that they are not doing what the corporations that have hired them to do ...... and carefully create a 'persona' to deceive that typically stupid American for doing what they are actually doing .......

    nonetheless they are criminals ........

  • Anonymous on November 09, 2011 11:01 AM:

    When someone finds an honest Republican willing to admit this, let me know.

    When we find an honest Republican - PERIOD - we'll let you know.

  • Mimikatz on November 09, 2011 11:11 AM:

    Bruce Bartlett. He's the only one who appears to be able to see reality. He thinks the GOP will ignore all economic issues in their debate tonight and resort to talking points regardless of the questions. Who'd have guessed.

  • nenabeans on November 09, 2011 11:27 AM:

    After what came down in Ohio last night, I'd like to hear that this clown is in trouble in his home district! I hope the Ohio dems are on it.

  • TCinLA on November 09, 2011 11:53 AM:

    "Honest Republican" is an oxymoron. At least insofar as the term can be applied to those who run the modern southern Confederate movement that hijacked the Republican Party.

    As regards Bruce Bartlett, with whom I occasionally correspond, he's at the point where he realizes he is not a "Republican" by the modern definition. I do give him props for being willing to try and bring them back from the madness, but I really think he and the others out there who agree with him are only going to be successful in creating a genuine "conservative" party (as opposed to the fascist movement that has hijacked that word) is to leave and start over from the cornerstone and build it over again.

  • Peter C on November 09, 2011 12:13 PM:

    This sounds like a good 'crowd-sourcing' project. We swarm the list of 'economists' and follow up. Why do they think the GOP plan is better? We can also ask their peers about their acumen. Then we publish their responses.

  • r on November 09, 2011 12:36 PM:

    Thanks, Liberal media!!

  • Daniel Kim on November 09, 2011 1:15 PM:

    It is disheartening to read the comments on the USA Today page. Lots of triumph on the part of the "Obama is lying" crowd. I don't know how one compares the credibility of economists, though.

  • Bartender on November 09, 2011 1:29 PM:

    The DNC needs to keep pounding into media advertising what happened to the economy the last time the republicians relied on their own economic proposals with their "economists" blessing during the Bush administration. The only reason Democrats feel the need to raise taxes is to pay for the runaway spending on the nations credit card during republician administrations.

  • kindness on November 09, 2011 2:10 PM:

    I don't read USA Today. I hadn't realized it had gone to the dark side of the force but after reading the comments it appears they are right up there with the wingnutz that comment at The Hill & Politico.

    Who buys this crap?

  • Stephen Stralka on November 09, 2011 2:55 PM:

    The Republican “list stunts” never go well.

    And they never will. Appeal to authority is always a fallacy regardless of the number of (alleged) authorities involved.

  • Kevin (not the famous one) on November 09, 2011 4:18 PM:

    The good news is they are down to 132 remaining from 700.

    Popcorn anybody?

  • mr. irony on November 10, 2011 7:21 AM:

    "Well, I don’t need to see GDP numbers or to listen to economists." - Boehner Summer 2010