In a breathtaking display of honesty, House Speaker John Boehner tweeted out the Republican Party’s five-point jobs plan Tuesday morning—and it was entirely empty. Take a look:
Liberals have had quite a bit of fun with this on Twitter (as I have), but Boehner accidentally told the truth in that tweet. The Republican Party doesn’t have and has never had a jobs plan during the Obama presidency. To see that, take a look at the actual five-point “jobs plan” that Boehner links to in his tweet. He wants to reform our tax code, cut spending, reform the legal system, cut regulations and improve our education system. Those all seem like good ideas—and could generate increased growth in the long-run—but these are all supply-side solutions intended to increase worker productivity and encourage business investment.
But the economy currently suffers from a shortfall in demand—consumers aren’t buying enough stuff. When the Great Recession hit, Americans dramatically cut back on spending, forcing businesses to fire workers, who cut back their own spending and this negative cycle repeated itself. The federal government used both fiscal and monetary stimulus to try to restore some of this demand and get businesses hiring and consumers spending again. It helped, but it wasn’t sufficient to close the hole in demand. In turn, we have had a weak recovery, made even worse by a premature turn to fiscal austerity.
Republicans, during this period, have consistently advocated the same jobs plan that Boehner laid out Tuesday. They opposed the stimulus, prompted the turn to austerity and criticized the Federal Reserve’s policies. All of the other policies Boehner suggests—reforming our regulatory, legal and education systems—are irrelevant to the demand problem facing the economy. In other words, Republicans have tried to make it harder for the government to fill the hole in demand and return the economy to full employment.
That’s the cruel irony in Boehner’s tweet. It would be funny, but it represents the massive economic damage that the Republican Party has unnecessarily inflicted on the country the past six years. And that’s not funny at all.