The wrong argument from the wrong team

THE WRONG ARGUMENT FROM THE WRONG TEAM…. The latest monthly jobs report, as has been the case for months, was disappointing. The private sector added jobs for the ninth month in a row, but growth was tepid and didn’t come close to offsetting the large job losses in the public sector.

Conservative Republicans, who’ve been wrong about every major economic challenge for the last several decades, seemed thrilled to seize on the unemployment numbers, in the hopes they’d pay political dividends. That may very well prove effective — the employment picture is still bleak and discouraging, which to the GOP, necessarily means the Democratic approach didn’t work.

Let’s pause to appreciate how backwards this is.

Honestly, I’m not sure what it is Republicans think they’re whining about. The economy is clearly still struggling, but we’d be far better off if the GOP weren’t already getting its way.

Putting aside everything we know about the status quo, consider exactly what Republicans think we should be doing right now: keep Bush-era tax rates; slash public-sector employment; stop infrastructure investments; let the private sector grow without any additional economic stimulus.

Then consider the status quo: we have Bush-era tax rates in place (in addition to middle-class and small-business tax cuts Dems passed over GOP opposition); the public sector is shedding jobs by tens of thousands of people per month; infrastructure investments are being blocked (see here and here); and the private sector is trying to grow without any additional economic stimulus.

In other words, the GOP is getting its way and it’s complaining about the results.

It’s like we’re having a debate in a bad “Twilight Zone” episode. Every measure that’s come up over the last 21 months that could help create jobs has been fought, watered down, and sometimes killed by Republicans … who in turn believe the weak job landscape, which they created in the first place, is Democrats’ fault. And Americans, feeling pain and anxiety, actually seem inclined to believe them.

Jon Chait had a brief item yesterday that rang true:

“[I]t’s worth reiterating that the U.S. is not undergoing some giant Keynesian fiscal experiment. Rather, the federal government is employing Keynesian policies, which are being offset by Hooverian policies at the state and local level, which are slashing government payrolls. […]

[T]he Republican policy of opposing fiscal aide to state and local government is directly helping produce the kind of terrible job results that a propelling them to victory in November. Quite a racket.

Right. The great irony of 2010 is that unemployment is likely to give Republicans a majority, despite the fact that Republicans made unemployment worse and then kept it that way.

One of the main themes in many key campaigns this year is a simple Republican message: “We tried it the liberal way.” Except, we didn’t. We tried the conservative way from 2001 to 2008, and it failed so spectacularly, it’ll be many years before we fully recover.

We tried some of the progressive approach, and it quickly helped create jobs, reverse the economic downward spiral, generate growth, and stabilize the economy. But instead of keeping our foot on the gas, we stopped. Instead of hitting the economy with more stimulus, we struggled to even pass an extension of unemployment benefits, and failed entirely to take additional steps that help the economy most.

Conservative Republicans were wrong about Reagan’s tax increases, wrong again about Clinton’s tax increases, wrong again about Bush’s tax cuts, and wrong yet again about the Great Recession that Obama is helping end. I saw plenty of Republicans cheering the bad news yesterday, but those who think the GOP has credibility on economic issues just aren’t paying attention.