Friday, July 08, 2011

Political Animal - Post hoc ergo propter hoc

July 08, 2011 2:45 PM Post hoc ergo propter hoc

By Steve Benen

There’s a fair amount of talk today about who’s to blame for the weakening job market. It got me thinking about how Republicans play this game.

When the jobs reports were looking quite good in the early spring, Republican leaders were eager to take credit for the positive numbers they had nothing to do with. Needless to say, GOP officials are no longer claiming responsibility, and are in fact now eager to point fingers everywhere else. It’s a nice little scam Republicans have put together: when more jobs are being created, it’s proof they’re right; when fewer jobs are being created, it’s proof Obama’s wrong. Heads they win; tails Dems lose.

With this in mind, let’s consider the recent developments the way a Republican would. Here’s a chart showing private-sector job creation in the latter half of 2010, when stimulus money was still being spent, and when Democrats enjoyed the congressional majority.

And here’s a chart showing private-sector job creation so far in 2011, after stimulus spending largely ended, Republicans took control of the U.S. House and most of the nation’s gubernatorial offices, and the national discourse pivoted from jobs to the deficit and debt.

Now, I know full well that the job market isn’t weak because of GOP gains, and I also know better than to make a post hoc ergo propter hoc mistake.

But I do take some enjoyment from looking at these developments as a Republican would. Indeed, Mitt Romney likes to talk all about who “made things worse.”

So, you tell me. Were we on track before Republicans gains or after?

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Stiglitz on how tax cuts, wars, recession and health care bankrupted the country


FTA: "A decade ago, in the midst of an economic boom, the United States faced a surplus so large that it threatened to eliminate the national debt. Unaffordable tax cuts and wars, a major recession, and soaring health care costs—fueled in part by the commitment of George W. Bush's administration to giving drug companies free rein in setting prices, even with government money at stake—quickly transformed a huge surplus into record peacetime deficits."

Yep, it all comes down to GWB's incompetence and disregard for all things economical when it comes to "gubmint".

Why the Republicans Resist Compromise


Right wing extremists are the only voters with any real enthusiasm. We're doomed unless liberals and moderates get off their collective asses and start making their wishes known and voices heard, at the polls and in the streets!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Boehner Math: The Bush Tax Cuts Cost $500,000 Per Job

Today, Speaker Boehner promoted a statistic concocted by the Weekly Standard claiming that President Obama's Recovery Act (aka "the stimulus") cost $278,000 per job. The stat is simply the overall cost of the Recovery Act, both the government spending and the tax cuts, divided by a low-end estimate of the jobs created or saved by ending the economic free-fall of late 2008 and early 2009.

This first struck me as a rare admission by a Republican that the stimulus created any jobs at all.

But I'm sure the tacit acknowledgment isn't weighing on conservative minds, because the idea behind this "stat" isn't to be intellectually consistent. It's to bolster the claim that government spending is an inherently inefficient way to create jobs.

The White House quickly pushed back with the basic reason why the stat is bogus: the Recovery Act wasn't only about creating jobs, but also to invest in American infrastructure, education and energy and lay a foundation for long-term prosperity. Further, the Recovery Act wasn't only made up of government spending to directly create jobs, but also, as conservatives typically neglect to mention, tax cuts for most Americans to mitigate the drop in demand caused by the recession.

All true, yet easily dismissed by conservatives as mere excuses as they seek to delegitimize the whole concept of active government among a public starving for more jobs.

If the balanced approach of the Recovery Act isn't good enough, what's the conservative response to the lingering jobs crisis? The conservative response to everything: more tax cuts.

We did try that recently. Let's apply the Boehner Math test and see how it worked.

* The estimated cost of the Bush tax cuts through 2008 was $1.5 trillion.

* The number of jobs created during the Bush presidency was 3 million.

* Using Boehner's Math and a trusty handheld calculator, and you end up with
$500,000 per job.

Almost double the cost of Obama's stimulus.

And in the case of the Bush tax cuts, the Boehner Math test is more revelant. There really wasn't any other economic argument to justify the cost of tax cuts heavily skewed to benefit millionaires and billionaires besides the promise of robust job growth.

One can certainly argue that the Recovery Act was not sufficient to bring about a robust recovery, even if it likely prevented a global depression.

But considering that the Bush tax cuts completely flunk the Boehner Math test, perhaps government spending is not what ails the Obama Recovery Act.

GRAPH: Contrary To GOP Claims, U.S. Has Second Lowest Corporate Taxes In The Developed World


So, then according to the GOP and the idea (false notion) that lower taxes leads to jobs, we should be at the lowest unemployment rate in history. Hmmmm. Guess the GOP has some explaining to do, along with their Galtian masters and corporate overlords.


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