IDIOCY WATCH, RNC EDITION…. Newly-elected RNC Chairman Michael Steele gave a pep talk to House Republicans yesterday, during a retreat to plot strategy for the rest of the year. Steele noted, for example, referencing unanimous opposition to an economic rescue package this week, “[T]he goose egg that you laid on the president’s desk was just beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.” His remarks became less tethered to reality as he went on.
Steele couldn’t praise [House Republicans] enough, and at times, he was at a loss for words. “You and I know that in the history of mankind and womankind, government — federal, state or local — has never created one job,” he said. “It’s destroyed a lot of them.”
There are a couple of ways to look at this. First, I suppose, it’s worth remembering that when Steele was the lieutenant governor of Maryland, and sought re-election, he and his running mate took credit for creating 100,000 new jobs in their state. They also ran ads vowing to … wait for it … create more jobs. This was in 2006. Perhaps Steele has changed his mind.
Indeed, Brian Beutler noted that the government is the nation’s largest employer, including paying the salaries of every member of Congress to whom Steele was speaking. Brian added, “I guess that means that when he was the Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, he was unemployed. As were his staff members. As are, say, the 1.5 million or so active personnel in the United States armed forces. And so on and so on. All just as unemployed as the people who used to work for that great engine of job creation Lehman Brothers.”
I’d just add, though, that Steele’s nonsense is evidence of a Republican Party that seems unable to say anything coherent at all about economic policy. One Republican lawmaker blasted the Democratic drive to “turn the United States into France” the other day. Another insisted that Bush’s economic policies were a sterling success until Democrats took over Congress. South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R), considered a rising star in the party, recently argued that the best thing a government can do during the economic crisis is “cut spending.” House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has made similar comments.
Why haven’t the discussions between policy makers from both parties been more successful? Perhaps because of the fatuousness of one side of the argument.