An angry Republican reader emails this morning to complain about the earlier piece on Speaker Boehner and his jobs argument with President Obama. The reader, who asked that I not use his name, raises a point that’s worth reviewing.
In yesterday’s call with the president, Boehner “reminded” Obama about a “memo” House Republicans prepared in May, which the Speaker believes is proof that the GOP has been fully engaged on the jobs issue for months. I dismissed it as foolishness, which generated the angry email:
“That’s totally unfair. Did you even read the Plan for America’s Job Creators? It’s a REAL plan, it came four months before Obama Stimulus II, and it’s not ‘vague platitudes on a website.’ If Democrats are so hot to move on jobs, explain why they said no.”
Fine, let’s talk about the “Plan for America’s Job Creators,” the memo Boehner was eager to point to yesterday.
As a practical matter, the agenda was practically a conservative cliche: the GOP put together a wish list of massive tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation, more coastal oil drilling, and huge cuts to public investment. The plan, such as it was, included no policy details.
Why didn’t Democrats take this seriously? Aside from the fact that it was substance-less, it was a rehash of everything Republicans have wanted for decades. As Paul Krugman joked at the time:
[T]he new “jobs plan” illustrates, once again, the foolishness of believing that we can reach any real bipartisan agreement on economic policy. The GOP stopped thinking a long time ago; all it knows how to do is parrot Reaganite rhetoric over and over. And there’s so little there there that the document — look at it! — has to rely on extra-large type and lots of pointless pictures to bulk it out even to 10 pages.
That last part isn’t a joke, by the way. Here’s the pdf version of the Republican “plan.” Notice that the font size is enormous, as are the pictures that dominate every page.
Ezra Klein explained, “Academic books pack about 600 words to a page. Normal books clock in around 400. Large-print books — you know, the ones for kids or the visually impaired — fit about 250. The House GOP’s jobs plan, however, gets about 200 words to a page. The typeface is fit for giants, and the document’s 10 pages are mostly taken up by pictures. It looks like the staffer in charge forgot the assignment was due on Thursday rather than Friday, and so cranked the font up to 24 and began dumping clip art to pad out the plan.”
Just for fun, I did a word count of the entire “plan.” The total: 2,053 words. If that sounds like a lot, it isn’t. This blog post that you’re reading now, for example, put together over the course of about 15 minutes, is about 550 words. The House Republican leadership put together a 10-page document ostensibly explaining how the GOP intends to address the unemployment crisis, and they could barely put together 2,000 words.
My angry reader wants to know why sensible people blew off this agenda? Because they read it.