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There Can't Be A Conservative Jobs Bill

Republicans take great offense whenever anybody accuses them of favoring George W. Bush's policies or being the "Party of No." But it's hard to avoid that conclusion when they say things like this:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on "Late Edition" that as long as the legislation creates jobs, "we're willing to take a look at it." But he and other Republicans suggested that Democrats could improve economic recovery by dropping their healthcare overhaul and extending the tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush, which expire at the end of the year.

"The best thing that we could do with respect to jobs is put that massive healthcare expansion on the shelf," Sen. John Thune (R-S.C.) said on CBS' "Face the Nation." He added that lawmakers also should "make it clear to small businesses that we're not going to raise their taxes in the middle of a recession," a reference to the expiring Bush tax cuts.

The Republican prescription for creating more jobs is... to restore the policies we had under George W. Bush. Kill health care reform and make the Bush tax cuts permanent.

The basic problem is that, while the public is clamoring for action on jobs, conservative ideology does not believe in using fiscal policy as a tool to counteract recessions. Alan Reynolds, writing at National Review, is honest about this:

Republicans should stop using Keynesian arguments against Keynesian policies. The mantra that President Obama should “focus on jobs,” for example, was an open invitation for the GOP to be sucker-punched when Obama simply relabeled his second stimulus bill a “jobs bill.” To demand the president focus on jobs seemed like an endorsement of the president’s odd notion that he can “create or save” jobs by using borrowed money to expand government payrolls and transfer payments.

As I recently explained, “Whether the government pays people to work or to stay on the dole, it has to get the money by taxing, borrowing or printing money — all of which reduce real income and employment opportunities in the private sector. To imagine that borrowing from Peter to pay Paul is a way to create or save Paul’s job is to forget that Peter expects his money back with interest.”

The Republican view is that tax rates, especially on the rich, should be as low as possible all the time. They don't think recessions have anything to do with it. And indeed, it's pretty ridiculous to introduce permanent policy changes in response to temporary economic conditions. But Republican economic policies are wildly unpopular, so inevitably they get dressed up as something totally different from their intent.