Worthless: The Opposition

Don’t this headline say it all?

(Click to enlarge.)

Again, these people no longer have anything to offer this country or the world. We are all now paying for a generation of GOP dishonesty.

War Room:


Yes, House Democrats pulled a few projects out of H.R. 1, the massive economic stimulus bill, ahead of today’s expected vote. Yes, part of the goal there was to appease Republican grumbling about the spending in the bill. But no, don’t expect that to change the outcome of the vote.

That’s in part because Republicans will have a vote on their own alternative stimulus bill, which relies almost entirely on tax cuts. Before the Democratic version passes, GOP lawmakers will be able to vote for their version, meaning every single member of the House will be able — should they want to — to vote “yes” on some version of an economic stimulus bill. (Yes, this means Republicans can say they voted for it before they voted against it.) Each side had an equal number of chances to propose amendments to the Democratic bill before the final vote, and — not surprisingly — most of the Republican ones were defeated. There will also be a parliamentary maneuver known as a motion to recommit, which will give Republicans yet another chance to lose a pro forma vote before they lose the actual one on the legislation.

And the opposition’s true colors come out here as well:

Tuesday, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) criticized radio host Rush Limbaugh for his attacks on the party’s congressional leadership. “I think that our leadership, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, are taking the right approach,” Gingrey told Politico. “I mean, it’s easy if you’re Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or even sometimes Newt Gingrich to stand back and throw bricks. You don’t have to try to do what’s best for your people and your party. You know you’re just on these talk shows and you’re living well and plus you stir up a bit of controversy and gin the base and that sort of that thing. But when it comes to true leadership, not that these people couldn’t be or wouldn’t be good leaders, they’re not in that position of John Boehner or Mitch McConnell.”

One day later, apparently cowed by the angry response he received, Gingrey was singing a different tune. His office released this statement:

Because of the high volume of phone calls and correspondence received by my office since the Politico article ran, I wanted to take a moment to speak directly to grassroots conservatives. Let me assure you, I am one of you… As long as I am in the Congress, I will continue to fight for and defend our sacred values. I have actively opposed every bailout, every rebate check, every so called “stimulus.” And on so many of these things, I see eye-to-eye with Rush Limbaugh. Regardless of what yesterday’s headline may have read, I never told Rush to back off. I regret and apologize for the fact that my comments have offended and upset my fellow conservatives — that was not my intent. I am also sorry to see that my comments in defense of our Republican Leadership read much harsher than they actually were intended, but I recognize it is my responsibility to clarify my own comments.

Now more than ever, we need to articulate a clear conservative message that distinguishes our values and our approach from those of liberal Democrats who are seeking to move our nation in the wrong direction. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Newt Gingrich, and other conservative giants are the voices of the conservative movement’s conscience. Everyday, millions and millions of Americans — myself included — turn on their radios and televisions to listen to what they have to say, and we are inspired by their words and by their determination.

The congressman also called in to Limbaugh’s show to apologize. “I want to express to you and all your listeners my very sincere regret for those comments I made yesterday… I clearly ended up putting my foot in my mouth… I regret those stupid comments,” Gingrey said.

The message coming out of the House GOP today is that they would have loved to heed President Obama’s request for bipartisanship, and vote for the legislation, but the mean House Democrats just wouldn’t let them, because they wouldn’t write a reasonable bill — the definition that House Republicans use for “reasonable” being, in this case, one that relies heavily on tax cuts, like the House Republican plan. Look for Democrats to say the Republicans were being obstructionist, and look for Republicans to keep lambasting the way Democrats shut them out of the process, well after the vote.

Ironically, the only thing the House GOP likes less than the spending in the bill is… its tax cuts. About a third of the $275 billion of tax cuts in the bill are what’s known as refundable tax credits, which count against taxpayers’ IRS bill even if they don’t have any income taxes due. To the GOP, that makes them welfare, not a tax cut. Evidently, like beauty, tax cuts are in the eye of the beholder.

Yet more is here:

Here’s what appears to be the House Republican strategy going forward: lie, misrepresent, and obfuscate. And when you get called on it, just ignore reality and repeat yourself.

A Wednesday afternoon case in point: The Republican leadership is now declaring that their economic recovery plan, which consists primarily of tax cuts, will result in the creation of 6.2 million jobs in two years. As the authority for their claim, they cite none other than Christina Romer, President Obama’s Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers.

From a press conference:

…We have an analysis by the president’s senior economic adviser who also shows that tax cuts actually provide more immediate relief and more jobs than spending, so you get more — a bigger bang for the buck.

Well, using the methods and economic models developed by the president’s top adviser — and when those are applied to our Republican plan, it shows the Republican plan could create as many as 6.2 million jobs over the next two years.

Now, let’s just be clear about where these estimates come from, the nation’s top economic adviser, the president’s nominee to chair the Council of Economic Advisors, Dr. Christina Romer, and her peer-reviewed research.

Now, it is true that in their classic paper, “The Macroeconomic Effects of Tax Changes: Estimates Based on a New Measure of Fiscal Shocks,” Christina Romer and her husband David Romer found that certain types of tax cuts in certain types of economic situations provided considerable “bang for the buck.”

But as has already been endlessly hashed out in the econoblogosphere, their findings primarily applied to tax cuts that were enacted during periods when the economy was healthy. In other words, when the economy’s normal job creation engine is plugging along nicely and companies are turning profits and unemployment is relatively low, a tax cut can provide an added stimulus.

But the Romers did not find the same was true when the economy was in recession. Explicitly: “Policymakers’ efforts to adjust taxes to offset anticipated changes in private economic activity have been largely unsuccessful.”

There is an intuitively obvious explanation for this, which will be familiar to anyone who has been reading How the World Works this week. In a recessionary economy, tax cuts do not necessarily encourage consumers to spend and businesses to hire. When confidence in the economy is low, people are inclined to pay off their bills and boost their savings. Tax cuts might provide a little more cushion for consumers and businesses to wait out the storm, but they are unlikely to incite a wave of euphoric shopping.

Pointing out, again that the House Republicans are misrepresenting the academic research on tax cuts is unlikely to make House Minority Leader John Boehner or Minority Whip Eric Cantor change their tune. But it might help to explain why after two consecutive walloping defeats for Congressional Republicans, the two men have little power to make their obfuscations change policy.


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