The disconnect

THE DISCONNECT…. The economy is still struggling. Encouraging developments of late — positive growth, an improved job market — point to a fragile recovery, with fits and starts of its own. It’s pointless to celebrate when the unemployment rate is 10%.

That said, the signs of slow, gradual improvements are obvious and hard to spin away. After enduring a devastating recession that began two full years ago, the light at the end of the tunnel is getting bigger. This, obviously, will have significant political implications. NBC News’ Mark Murray had this report earlier:

During President Obama’s first 10-plus months in office, most of the economic news hasn’t been positive. The unemployment rate is in double digits for the first time since the early 1980s. Critics have argued that the $787 billion stimulus hasn’t worked the way some hoped it would. And Republicans, not surprisingly, have pounced on these shortcomings.

But as the economic news begins to get better — positive growth in the 3rd quarter, the CBO estimating that between 600,000 and 1.6 million jobs in the 3rd quarter were created or saved by the stimulus, and today’s best monthly jobs report in nearly two years — Democrats are now pointing to what they see as the GOP’s disconnect on the economy.

“There is a real disconnect,” said Doug Thornell, a top Democratic congressional spokesman. “At what point are they going to acknowledge the positive steps taken that have pulled us away from the brink?”

Well, probably never. But given the developments, it’s not too soon for the rest of us to acknowledge the Republicans’ track record of uninterrupted failure.

The GOP said the stimulus package would fail to create jobs. We now know the Republicans were wrong.

The GOP said the recovery efforts would fail to generate economic growth. We now know the Republicans were wrong.

The GOP said the stimulus “failed.” We now know the Republicans were wrong.

The GOP said the government should cancel unspent recovery funds. We now know the Republicans were wrong.

The GOP said tax cuts are more effective at stimulating the economy than government spending. We now know the Republicans were wrong.

Every step of the way, facing an economic catastrophe, Republicans claimed to know the best way forward. And every step of the way, they were pointed in the wrong direction. The strength of the recovery remains to be seen, but the only reason we’re even able to talk about the possibility of a recovery is that Republicans had no control over the levers of power when decisions were made at the height of the crisis. America has been through a lot this decade, but the country can take some solace in the fact that when the economy was on the brink of wholesale collapse, Republicans were in the minority.

And let’s not forget that the track record of uninterrupted failure goes back quite a while. The GOP said Bush/Cheney economic policies would work wonders for the country, create millions of jobs, prevent a recession, and keep the budget balanced. The GOP also said Clinton/Gore economic policies would be a disaster.

I realize there are plenty of well-intentioned people who sincerely believe Republicans are credible on economic matters. I just don’t know why.