Sunday, May 22, 2011

Where Are The Jobs, Mr. Boehner?

It was only December, a few snowstorms ago, that GOP pundit/strategist Alex Castellanos had a rather quaint idea (transcript from The Situation Room, here):

ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Priority No. 1 for the Republicans is going to be an agenda for jobs and growth, and that's what they're going to try to put, I think, on the table.

BLITZER: Does that mean repealing the health-care law? CASTELLANOS: I think the health-care law is going to be part of that, but it's not going to be, I think, what you see on day one. We don't want to fall in the same traps, I think, the Democrats did, which is they spent the year they should have been talking about the economy talking about health care. We don't want to flip that problem on its head, but...

BORGER: But they are going to...


CASTELLANOS: ... smarter than...

BORGER: They are -- they're going to call for the repeal of health care.

CASTELLANOS: Sure, they're going to call for the repeal of health care. And it's going to be a big vote.

BORGER: The job-killing health-care bill.


CASTELLANOS: And it will pass the House and it won't pass the Senate, and then there will probably be a series of test votes throughout the year, repealing the parts that you don't want to keep, keep the parts that work. Veterans, things likes that. Deductibility.

But it's really going to be who gets to keep the focus on the economy, on jobs and growth. But first, whether it's the president or John Boehner, the first one to put something on the table called a strategy for jobs and growth and how we're going to compete with China is going to win.

Back when it needed to take back the House, last autumn, the GOP did emphasize the high unemployment rate and the importance of creating jobs. Control of the House flipped and during the lame duck period Republican pundits seemed to believe that the GOP really would concentrate on getting Americans back to work. As the short days of early winter have given way to the long days of late spring, that promise clearly has turned into a cruel joke, at least for the moderate voters who sprang for their message.

Let's check in on the GOP's gospel (though aided and abetted by the White House) of tax cuts. Jared Bernstein displays two scatterpoint diagrams (below), both comparing the Clinton years with the Bush 43 years. The first demonstrates a positive correlation between the top marginal tax rate and GDP growth; the second, between the top marginal tax rate and employment.

Bernstein cautions that this is "blogometrics," not econometrics and correlation is not causation. In one chart and two graphs on his post (click on the link, then on the graphs to enlarge), the Angry Bear demonstrates for a greater period, 1930 to 2009, "tax cuts are correlated with rapid growth in the first and second year after the cut, but even that degree of cherry picking indicates that the year of the tax cut, as well as 3 or more years out, growth is faster when taxes are hiked than when they are cut."

This still is not "proof," but further correlation. Still, it reinforces the reality that economists generally have failed to demonstrate a strong relationship between tax cuts and economic growth. Presumably, that would be significant if congressional Republicans were as concerned about jobs as they pretended to be during the campaign; or if their concern about unemployment were even a fraction of their concern about deficits (which, given the push for even more tax cuts, is itself a fraud). Unfortunately, the GOP's interest is in undermining the social safety net while jacking up the debt and destroying confidence in government to provide even a modicum of protection for the nation's citizens.

Let's check in on the "focus on the economy, on jobs and growth" Castellanos promised us. From The Hill:

Six Senate Republicans on Monday introduced legislation that would hit doctors with heavy fines and imprisonment if they fail to inform parents when their minor daughters seek an abortion.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.), said that state laws requiring parental notification have helped to reduce teen abortion rates, but that these laws can be dodged when abortions are sought across state lines. He said a federal law covering all states would solve this problem, and that the proposal is widely supported across the country.

"Polls show nearly 80 percent of Americans agree parents should have the legal right to stop an abortion from being performed on their minor daughter," he said.
Under the bill, parents would have to be notified by certified mail that their minor daughter is seeking an abortion, and doctors would have to wait four days before performing the procedure. Anyone violating this requirement could face a fine of up to $1 million and a prison term of up to 10 years.

The four-day waiting period would give parents a chance to prevent the procedure by bringing a court action to block it. The bill says the district court would be required to issue an injunction preventing the abortion "until the issue has been adjudicated and the judgment is final."

"The court shall issue relief permanently enjoining the abortion unless the court determines that granting such relief would be unlawful," the bill says.
Other co-sponsors to the bill, S. 1005, are Sens. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and John Thune (R-S.D.).

This not being an abortion post, there will be no critique of the specific measures proposed by the Senators. But these Republicans have reminded us of their party's laser-like focus on the economy- and to their traditional dedication to the Tenth Amendment.

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