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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

GOP Economic Incoherence

One of the great triumphs of Republican spin has been their ability to convince their base that they don't work for the government. To illustrate this, let's look at the common Republican argument that government doesn't create jobs. They stand there in their suits bought with a government paycheck, in a government-supplied office, with government-supplied staff, telling us -- in all seriousness, mind you -- that the government has never created a single job. Meanwhile, Republican candidates -- at least, those who happen to be governors and former governors -- compete over which created the most jobs in their states. Cognitive dissonance rules the day, as Republicans try to live in what would, to any rational person, be a confusing whirl of conflicting messages and beliefs.

The oddest thing about this is that GOP austerity is actually shedding jobs in the public sector and adding to unemployment.

Washington Post:

[An upcoming report from the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers] says that although state general fund revenue increased in 2011 and is expected to increase 2012, it remains $21 billion below 2008 levels. In addition, states are bracing for further reductions in federal aid that are likely to come from Washington’s efforts to slow the growth of the deficit.

The fiscal pressure on states has become a drag on the job market; local and state governments are shedding jobs, even though the private-sector job market has shown signs of improvement.

State and local governments have cut 455,000 jobs since the beginning of 2010, and public-sector jobs account for the smallest share of the nation's employment since the 2008 financial crisis, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


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If it's impossible for government to create jobs, where did all these that are being lost come from in the first place? It's a gaping hole in their argument that they don't even try to paper over. You're just supposed to ignore it.

As Republicans at the federal level block aid to the states, those at the state level are reducing their workforces. Then both blame President Obama and Democrats for unemployment. Their fingerprints are all over the knife, but they insist the culprit is someone else.

And it's not just government layoffs that are costing jobs. It's reduced spending. When the government spends money, it usually goes someplace -- as much as the GOP would like you to believe it just gets shoveled into a furnace. It pays contractors and consumers, doctors and administrators. Spending is demand -- regardless of where it comes from. And when you reduce demand, the economy takes the hit. Absolutely, positively, 100% guaranteed. Government dials back when times are relatively good and there's some wiggle room, so it can afford to spend more when times are bad.

Or, at least, it should. But the big government furnace was running full blast under Bush. Iraq was a shovelful. The completely unpaid-for Medicare Part D was another shovelful. The insanely huge and completely ineffective Bush tax cuts were another shovelful. The creation of a massive and expensive surveillance bureaucracy was yet another. Bush -- and many of the same Republicans so newly concerned about deficits now -- spent money like it was going out of style, leaving the US with record deficits when they should've been creating a rainy day fund.

And here they are now, still treating the abrasion with sandpaper, still practicing completely bass-ackward economics. No wonder most think Republicans are actively trying to sabotage the economy -- the only other explanation is gross incompetence. Their attitude toward spending is completely independent of the economy. The GOP's plan is clearly to spend like crazy when a Republican is in the White House and freak out about spending when a Democrat's in there.

And we pay the price. As GOP austerity is costing jobs at the state level and creating a drag on the economy, we're supposed to believe that government didn't create those jobs. That way, Republicans can't be blamed for losing them.

-Wisco

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