IT’S AS IF MITCH MCCONNELL HAS NO IDEA WHAT HE’S TALKING ABOUT…. Late last week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said he didn’t much care about the economic projections showing massive job losses as a result of the GOP’s proposed spending cuts. What really matters, Cantor said, is the judgment of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Today, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) went down the same road during a weekly press briefing on the Hill.
“Unemployment among government workers is about 4.5 percent,” said McConnell. “Most of those government workers work for state and local government. The federal government over the last two years has added 100,000 employees. The only industry in America that’s not sacrificing in this current downturn is government employees. I can’t tell you some federal worker won’t be affected by reducing government spending, but we have largely insulated the federal government from this recession.” […]
“If government spending would stimulate the economy, we’d be in the middle of a boom,” he said. “We don’t think there’s any case to be made that the failure to reduce spending is going to be disastrous for the economy. Chairman Bernanke was asked a question last week about the House-passed bill, whether it would have an adverse impact on the economy, and I believe his answer was he didn’t think so.”
Let’s unpack this a bit, because I think it’s important to highlight just how ridiculously wrong McConnell is.
First, like Cantor, the Senate Minority Leader seems to think Bernanke is an ally on the budget fight. It’s worth remembering, then, that the Republican Fed chairman actually said the GOP’s proposed spending cuts would slow the economy and cost the nation 200,000 jobs. That doesn’t sound like an endorsement.
Second, McConnell believes the federal government has added 100,000 employees over the last two years. Last week, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) put the number at 200,000. They’re both wrong — the actual number is 58,000, and most of these employees were hired to work for the military or in homeland security, which Republicans claim to care about. Overall, on a per capita basis, the federal workforce is already at its lowest level since 1962, which, again, should make McConnell happy.
Third, the notion that federal workers “aren’t sacrificing” is bizarre. Did McConnell not hear about the federal pay freeze?
And finally, McConnell believes the economy should “be in the middle of a boom” if government spending stimulates the economy. Again, the man is strikingly confused — recovery efforts in 2009 helped turn the economy around, and immediately improved both economic growth and job creation. Even congressional Republicans should be able to understand the basics here.
As for why we’re not enjoying a “boom,” the country is (a) having to crawl out of a very deep hole in the wake of historic GOP failures; and (b) nearly every dollar in federal government spending was counteracted by comparable cuts in state and local government spending. As Paul Krugman explained last week, “The only way we could have avoided a prolonged slump would have been for government spending to take up the slack. But that didn’t happen: growth in total government spending actually slowed after the recession hit, as an underpowered federal stimulus was swamped by cuts at the state and local level.”
Either Mitch McConnell doesn’t understand any of this, or he does and is simply repeating nonsense in the hopes reporters and the public don’t know the difference. He is, in other words, either spectacularly dishonest or hopelessly clueless.