Any chance the debt-reduction “super committee” will consider measures to create jobs? No, House Speaker John Boehner’s office said yesterday.
The response: Deficit reduction will spur job creation and, therefore, the supercommittee does not need to take on an additional mission.
“As every economist and every rating agency has made clear, getting our deficit under control is the first step to help get our economy growing again and to create jobs,” said Michael Steel, spokesman for Boehner.
Now, Steel’s assessment is almost comically ridiculous, but it’s a lie that’s ridiculous in important ways. As Jamison Foser explained, the line from Boehner’s office is “almost perfect in its wrongness. Not only because the very idea of “every economist” agreeing on the color of the sky, much less the best way to cause the economy to grow, is laugh-out-loud funny, but because of the widespread belief among economists that Steel’s formula is exactly backwards — that, in fact, the best way to get the deficit under control is to create jobs and fix the economy.”
I especially liked Steel’s line about rating agencies, since S&P blamed Republicans for the downgrade, in part because — you guessed it — Republicans won’t consider new revenue.
But if the Speaker’s office is sincerely interested in what “every economist” thinks, I’d recommend Boehner and his aides read this recent piece on the scope of the opposition to the Republican economic agenda.
The boasts of Congressional Republicans about their cost-cutting victories are ringing hollow to some well-known economists, financial analysts and corporate leaders, including some Republicans, who are expressing increasing alarm over Washington’s new austerity and antitax orthodoxy.
Their critiques have grown sharper since last week, when President Obama signed his deficit reduction deal with Republicans and, a few days later, when Standard & Poor’s downgraded the credit rating of the United States.
But even before that, macroeconomists and private sector forecasters were warning that the direction in which the new House Republican majority had pushed the White House and Congress this year — for immediate spending cuts, no further stimulus measures and no tax increases, ever — was wrong for addressing the nation’s two main ills, a weak economy now and projections of unsustainably high federal debt in coming years.
Instead, these critics say, Washington should be focusing on stimulating the economy in the near term to induce people to spend money and create jobs, while settling on a long-term plan for spending cuts and tax increases to take effect only after the economy recovers.
But Republicans in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail refuse to back down.
If the “every economist” line from Boehner’s office isn’t nominated for Lie of the Year, I’ll be very disappointed.