WHAT SESSIONS THINKS ‘CREATED UNEMPLOYMENT’…. I can understand why Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), this year’s chairman of the NRCC, would feel a little embarrassed. We learned this week that the far-right Texan, who’s spent quite a bit of time lately trashing the Recovery Act, has taken steps that suggest he doesn’t believe his own talking points.
While Sessions has argued that government spending couldn’t possibly improve the economy, and that the stimulus was one big waste, Sessions also quietly urged the Obama administration to spend stimulus money in his district. Indeed, the Republican lawmaker said government spending in his area would create jobs — while simultaneously telling the public that government spending is incapable of creating jobs.
But while some humiliation is expected, that’s hardly an excuse for rhetoric that makes Sessions look even more ridiculous. ABC News chatted with Sessions this week about his stimulus contradictions, but his response clearly needs some work.
Sessions … ramped up his criticism of the stimulus, saying not only did it not create jobs, but that it actually contributed to job loss.
“Let me just say this: The stimulus was excessive spending that did not meet the intended targets or consequences and was the wrong thing to do and has created not only unemployment, but the big circumstance with the debt that we’re dealing with.”
Blaming the stimulus for the debt is pretty silly. Republicans added $5 trillion to the debt in just eight years, and the deficit is actually smaller now than it was when President Obama took office. If Sessions were serious about debt reduction, he could start by denouncing his own intention to pass $4 trillion in tax cuts that aren’t paid for.
But it’s that other point that really stands out for me. As Sessions sees it, the Recovery Act “created” unemployment. There are plenty of credible ways for grown-ups to look at the stimulus, but this isn’t one of them. The argument is just too crazy.
If one wants to argue that the stimulus should have been bigger and more ambitious to create a more robust recovery, that’s certainly fair. If one wants to argue that the economy would be in the identical shape it’s in now had the Recovery Act never passed, that’s wrong, but we can at least have the conversation.
Arguing that the stimulus actually hurt the economy, however, is evidence of a deeply confused person.
The stimulus “created” unemployment? In what universe is that true? Just recently, the Congressional Budget Office said the stimulus boosted overall economic growth in the second quarter by as much as 4.5%, and as many as 3.3 million Americans have jobs now who wouldn’t otherwise if the stimulus hasn’t passed.
If Sessions wants to characterize this as inadequate, that’s fine, since no one’s satisfied with the status quo. But blaming unemployment on the stimulus is insane.
I don’t expect much from this guy — Sessions is the one who insisted America has to go back to “the exact same agenda” we had during the Bush/Cheney years — but this absurd, even for him.