Wednesday, February 17, 2010

John Boehner Continues to Advance the GOP's Strategy of Opposition

Congressman John Boehner (R-OH) has been a big critic of the stimulus legislation that was signed into law by President Obama last year. He even threw the actual bill on the floor during debate:

After the bill was signed into law, Boehner continued to publicly rail against the legislation, but in June he sent out a release which stated that the money redirected to "shovel-ready projects" by the Obama Administration created much needed jobs for Ohio. Here was the release:

“The stated intent of the so-called stimulus package was to create jobs, and certainly a $57 million slush-fund studying projects did nothing to achieve that goal. With Ohio’s unemployment rate the highest it’s been in 25 years, I’m pleased that federal officials stepped in to order Ohio to use all of its construction dollars for shovel-ready projects that will create much-needed jobs.”

Even though Boehner's statement gives credit to the stimulus for its ability to create jobs, Boehner posted this on his Twitter feed this morning:

Today marks one year since the trillion-dollar “stimulus” was signed into law. Since then, 47 states have lost jobs.

Boehner's post was coupled with the release of his report entitled "Where are the Jobs?" which concludes:

At the beginning of February 2010, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that 20,000 more jobs were lost in the month of January. This report confirmed that the U.S. economy has lost nearly 3.3 million jobs since President Obama signed the trillion-dollar ‗stimulus‘ into law.

The trillion-dollar ‗stimulus‘ was put together so quickly and so secretively that no member of Congress had a chance to read it before it passed, and it shows. Yet, as poorly conceived and badly executed as the trillion-dollar ‗stimulus‘ was, President Obama and Democrats in Congress still think that Washington is the answer to everything. Democrats‘ proposed government takeover of health care is already hurting small businesses by causing additional uncertainty and stifling job creation. The dismal performance of the ‗stimulus‘ demonstrates the dangers of allowing Washington to take more control over our economy.

Americans are asking 'where are the jobs,' but all they are getting from Washington Democrats is more government, more borrowing, and more debt piled on the backs of our kids and grandkids. Our economy will ultimately recover, but it will do so because of the hard work and entrepreneurship of the American people, not wasteful Washington spending. Republicans have proposed better solutions focused on helping small businesses create jobs to get our economy moving again.

Through much of the report Boehner criticizes the Administration for how they count the number of jobs that are created, citing "gross inaccuracies" and examples of "fuzzy math". It is interesting to note that on the same day Boehner decided to release this report, this article appeared in the New York Times. Journalist David Leonhardt writes:
Perhaps the best-known economic research firms are IHS Global Insight, Macroeconomic Advisers and Moody’s They all estimate that the bill has added 1.6 million to 1.8 million jobs so far and that its ultimate impact will be roughly 2.5 million jobs. The Congressional Budget Office, an independent agency, considers these estimates to be conservative.


In the early months of last year, spending by state and local governments was falling rapidly, as was tax revenue. In the spring, tax revenue continued to drop, yet spending jumped — during the very time when state and local officials were finding out roughly how much stimulus money they would be receiving. This is the money that has kept teachers, police officers, health care workers and firefighters employed.

Not only do you have Leonhardt's piece that highlights the successes of the stimulus legislation, but you have private sector forecasters who are also saying that the stimulus has helped during this recession:

“It was worth doing — it’s made a difference,” said Nigel Gault, chief economist at IHS Global Insight, a financial forecasting and analysis group based in Lexington, Mass.

Mr. Gault added: “I don’t think it’s right to look at it by saying, ‘Well, the economy is still doing extremely badly, therefore the stimulus didn’t work.’ I’m afraid the answer is, yes, we did badly but we would have done even worse without the stimulus.”

In interviews, a broad range of economists said the White House and Congress were right to structure the package as a mix of tax cuts and spending, rather than just tax cuts as Republicans prefer or just spending as many Democrats do. And it is fortuitous, many say, that the money gets doled out over two years — longer for major construction — considering the probable length of the “jobless recovery” under way as wary employers hold off on new hiring.

So while elected Republican officials continue to claim that nothing about this stimulus has worked, it is clear that well-known economic firms as well as private sector forecasters tend to think otherwise. The narrative that Boehner and other Republicans continue to espouse is a narrative of opposition to everything that is supported by the Obama Administration. They continue to rail against the stimulus legislation while accepting funds for their districts that were made possible by the exact same legislation. This proves true once again with Boehner's recent report that slams the stimulus but fails to acknowledge that he supported the money that Ohio received. This is the meme of complete opposition and despite the inherent hypocrisies that result, this meme has become the focused strategy of the Republican Party as we move closer toward the mid-term elections.

This is cross posted here.

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