Wanted: Foolish economists

WANTED: FOOLISH ECONOMISTS…. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) has made clear he’s against the idea of a government rescue package in response to the financial crisis, but he’s apparently having trouble finding economists who agree.

So, as Matt Stoller discovered, Boehner has gone online looking for help. This plea was published this week on Boehner’s website.

Attention Economists: Are You A Stimulus Spending Skeptic?

A recent Associated Press article quoted transition officials for President-elect Obama as saying “[o]nly one outside economist” contacted by the President-elect’s advisors had “voiced skepticism” about the President-elect’s emerging plans for an economic “stimulus” spending bill with a price tag as large as $1 trillion, with the vast majority of that number going to new spending on government programs and projects.

House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) is compiling a list of credentialed American economists who would like to add their voices to the list of stimulus spending skeptics. If you are an economist who would like to be added to this list, you can join the list here and provide your comments.

Boehner knows he’s against injecting money into a struggling economy, he just needs some credentialed conservatives to tell him how right he is. Good luck with that, John.

This strikes me as a surprisingly embarrassing exercise. First, why Boehner would oppose a stimulus right now is beyond comprehension. Second, House Republicans should be able to make their case on the merits, and not point to a list of people Boehner found online to bolster a weak argument.

And third, isn’t this the kind of thing Boehner should do quietly? Call up the Heritage Foundation, AEI, and Cato, tell them you need some skewed reports showing that the economy’s in pretty good shape and will get even better on its own, and tell the Wall Street Journal editorial page to repeat the talking points. Isn’t that usually how this game is played?

Let’s put aside the fact that Boehner knows that the future of our economy is on the line, and he wants to stand in the way of the one thing the nation desperately needs. Even looking past this, Boehner putting up an “economists needed” plea on his website is kind of humiliating.