Those dreaded zombie lies

THOSE DREADED ZOMBIE LIES…. About once a week, a high-profile Republican will argue that the GOP had a great idea for an economic stimulus package earlier this year, but no one took it seriously. This person will then invariably argue that the Republican alternative would have cost less and done more, if only the GOP had been listened to.

This week, it’s Karl Rove, who wrote in his latest Wall Street Journal op-ed that GOP lawmakers “offered — and Mr. Obama almost completely ignored — constructive ideas to jump-start the economy.” Their plan, featuring “immediate tax cuts” would have “created 50% more jobs than the stimulus” and “cost half as much.”

It’s a tiresome tale. The Media Matters Action Network did a nice job taking the claim apart.

GOP Admitted Jobs Figure Was “Speculative” And “Dictated By Assumptions.” In a document released to explain the mathematical reasoning behind the “6.2 million jobs” claim, Republicans on the House Ways & Means Committee wrote: “Efforts to quantify the extent to which even large spending increases or tax cuts will impact future economic growth and employment are largely speculative, and the conclusions are generally dictated by the assumptions made by the authors.” [House Ways and Means Republican Staff via TPM, 1/28/09; emphasis added]

GOP Said Source Document Used “Lacks Critical Details Necessary To Fully Understand.” In a document released to explain the mathematical reasoning behind the “6.2 million jobs” claim, Republicans on the House Ways & Means Committee wrote, “they use a multiplier that suggests tax cuts equal to 1% of Gross Domestic Product (or ‘GDP’ which is a measure of national output) have a less than 1% effect on output, while spending increases of the same size have a greater that 1% effect. The Romer-Bernstein paper lacks critical details necessary to fully understand their reasoning…” [House Ways andMeans Republican Staff via TPM, 1/28/09; emphasis added]

Half the cost? In reality, the GOP’s plan would have resulted in nearly the same deficit.

Despite Extreme Cuts In Spending, The GOP’s Plan Would Have Resulted Deficits “Not Much Lower Than Democratic Plans.” The New York Times reported: “Even with the spending reductions and other changes proposed by the Republicans, their plan would still leave annual deficits of about $500 billion, not much lower than the Democratic plans.” [New York Times, 4/02/09]

These pesky details won’t stop some other GOP leader from repeating the claim next week, if not sooner, but it’s probably worth setting the record straight from time to time.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.