Part and parcel of a larger amnesia campaign

PART AND PARCEL OF A LARGER AMNESIA CAMPAIGN…. In today’s official GOP weekly address, Sen. John Barrasso (R) of Wyoming, the vice chair of the Senate Republican Conference, returned to a familiar subject: his party’s obsession with eliminating the Affordable Care Act.

The pitch was, not surprisingly, pretty familiar. “Republicans will fight to repeal this job-destroying law and replace it with patient-centered reforms,” Barrasso said. What might patient-centered reforms look like? For one thing, the GOP wants Americans to be able to buy health insurance across state lines. For another, they’ll “end junk lawsuits that drive up the cost of everyone’s care.” Barrasso also vowed to “restore Americans’ freedom over their own health care decisions.”

Substantively, Barrasso, who’s never demonstrated any depth of understanding in any area of public policy, has no idea what he’s talking about. He clearly doesn’t understand the across-state-lines argument; the “junk lawsuits” argument has been debunked repeatedly; and the Affordable Care Act gives consumers more power, not less, over their care.

But it’s the “job-destroying law” claim that still rankles.

We know with certainty that Barasso, like others who repeat the claim, is lying. We also know with certainty that if Republicans succeeded in gutting the law, it would cost, not create, jobs.

But it’s worth pausing to appreciate exactly why Republicans have a Tourette’s-like habit of repeating the phrase at every available opportunity. Jay Bookman had a good piece on this recently.

Such repetition is not accidental. To the contrary, it represents a calculated, organized effort by Boehner and other conservatives to try to rewrite recent history and make the American people “misremember” what actually happened to them and their country in the last few years. It is an effort to drive home the point — the absolutely false point — that the greatest economic collapse in 80 years was somehow caused by government spending.

It was not. Government spending did not cause the recession. Government spending had nothing to do with the recession. Government spending is not responsible for killing the 8 million jobs that have vanished from this country. In fact, there is no economic mechanism, no plausible cause and effect relationship, by which that can be said to be true.

Boehner and his colleagues know that, which is why they never try to make that argument explicit. However, by endlessly, repeatedly inferring a false association between the two, they hope to create that impression nonetheless.

I realize some of this may seem obvious, but it’s important and too often goes unsaid. We even have helpful charts to help drive the point home.

The assumption on the part of Republicans is that Americans are idiots. The public knows there’s a jobs crisis, and knows Democrats passed a series of landmark bills. The point is for Republicans to convince voters that the two enjoy a causal relationship — maybe if Dems hadn’t done all this important work, we wouldn’t have lost so many jobs.

This is lazy, cynical, intellectually-dishonest drivel. Even congressional Republicans should be able to understand the reality here.

When President Obama took office, the economy was in freefall, losing nearly 800,000 jobs a month. If governmental policies were “job-killing” — or, post Arizona, “job-destroying” — they weren’t the policies of Obama White House.

job_losses_before_and_after_obama%27s_policies.png

Consider this chart Ezra Klein posted in August, based on data economist Rob Shapiro put together, using Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

The GOP argument is that policies during and after 2009 led to massive job losses. The very idea is demonstrably ridiculous for anyone with even a tenuous hold on reality.

There’s no real ambiguity here. Since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, the private sector has added 1.1 million jobs. Roughly a fifth of that total — more than 200,000 — were jobs created in the health care industry. Guys like Barrasso can’t explain this, so they pretend reality didn’t happen.

Only a fool would believe him.

As Steven Pearlstein recently explained, “[T]he next time you hear some politician or radio blowhard or corporate hack tossing around the ‘job-killing’ accusation, you can be pretty sure he’s not somebody to be taken seriously. It’s a sign that he disrespects your intelligence, disrespects the truth and disrespects the democratic process.”