The no-sense jobs plan

THE NO-SENSE JOBS PLAN…. Arguably the single most farcical aspect of America’s political discourse is listening to congressional Republicans talk about economic policy. We’re talking about a group of people who’ve managed to be spectacularly wrong about practically every economic challenge in recent memory, but who are nevertheless convinced of their own self-righteous expertise. It’s hard not to cringe.

But yet, they keep talking, blissfully unaware of their track record of uninterrupted failure. Yesterday, for example, House Minority Whip Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) visited the conservative Heritage Foundation to unveil what he called “a no-cost jobs plan.” Andrew Leonard explained, “Without adding a single dime to the deficit, the Republican’s plan will ameliorate the worst unemployment crisis in 30 years. One wonders how a political party capable of such innovative thinking ever lost its hold of power.”

To recap: Cut regulations. Freeze spending. Cut taxes. No new taxes. That’s the plan.

I would really, really love to have access to an alternative universe in which Cantor’s plan could have been applied this past year, in parallel with our world, in which the economy was injected with a massive stimulus, so we could compare the efficacy of the two approaches in real time. What would have happened if instead of spending money, the government had sat on its hands?

I think about that all the time. Republicans controlled the levers of power, and the results were nearly catastrophic for the economy. Democrats were handed the reins, and while the economy is still struggling, we’re working our way out of the ditch. If we’d listened to Cantor & Co., we’d still be digging.

As for the “no-cost jobs plan,” it’s hard not to laugh at the stupidity. We tried it Cantor’s way. We’re still suffering the consequences. NBC reported on Cantor’s plan, and explained, “The challenge for Cantor and Republicans is that these solutions — low taxes, free trade, and fewer regulations — existed during the Bush years, which saw three different economic downturns (in 2001, 2003, and 2008), and which produced the weakest eight-year span for the U.S. economy in decades.”

It’s not just Cantor, of course. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) has scheduled an “economic roundtable” today, to compete with the White House’s job summit. Roll Call reported, “A spokesman for Boehner said the purpose of the meeting is to give a platform for economists who have a different perspective on how Obama’s agenda has affected the economy.”

And who are these experts? Apparently, House Republicans have turned to “former Bush administration and McCain campaign staffers, who have advocated disastrous tax and budget policies.”

So, to summarize, less than a year from the last administration, congressional Republicans believe it’s time to re-embrace the Bush/Cheney agenda that didn’t work, and listen to the architects of the Bush/Cheney agenda that didn’t work.

Historically, after a major electoral defeat, the losing side adapts and shifts course. Congressional Republicans, for reasons that defy comprehension, are doubling down on an agenda that’s already failed.