Approaching a degree of consensus

APPROACHING A DEGREE OF CONSENSUS…. I argued yesterday that there have been three separate economic analyses on the impact of the House Republicans’ spending cuts, and they all reached the same conclusion — the GOP plan would cause massive job losses and push the economy closer to a recession. As it turns out, I might have been understating the case.

To quickly review, Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi, an advisor to the McCain/Palin campaign in 2008, found the Republican proposal would result in 700,000 fewer American jobs by the end of 2012. If follows data from the Center for American Progress, which found that the Republican budget plan would force roughly 975,000 Americans from their jobs. And just last week, economists at Goldman Sachs estimated that the GOP proposal would reduce economic growth by as much as 2% of GDP, which would cause the unemployment rate to go up about a point.

Jill Lawrence, meanwhile, goes a little further, and argues that “two independent economic reports, a liberal think tank and four bipartisan reports” all agree that “slashing federal spending this year could cause job losses and threaten the economic recovery.” In addition to the three reports I mentioned, Lawrence added:

[T]here is bipartisan consensus to be found in the reports from various deficit and debt commissions. They are unanimous in suggesting either increased stimulus or steady government spending in 2011.

“Don’t disrupt the fragile recovery,” the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform warned in December. Its plan — adopted by 11 of the 18 panel members — calls for “serious belt-tightening” to begin in 2012. A report from the Bipartisan Policy Center suggested gradually phasing in steps to reduce deficits and debt “beginning in 2012, so the economy will be strong enough to absorb them.” The 2009 Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform put off cuts to the same year, as did a recent proposal from Brookings fellow Bill Galston and Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

And Lawrence and I both neglected to mention yet another report from the Economic Policy Institute, which evaluated the Republican plan and projected that “cuts of this magnitude would likely result in job losses of just over 800,000.”

Now, I suppose the right might look at this and note that the projections are not all the same. That’s true. But the forecasts, taken together, do start to shape a consensus — the Republican plan would cost the United States hundreds of thousands of jobs, on purpose. After two years of “where are the jobs?” this is nothing short of extraordinary.

The fact that the public debate is focused on how much to cut, and not what the consequences of these cuts are likely to be, only adds insult to injury.

If you missed Rachel Maddow’s segment on this last night, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch it.

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