It’s hard to pin them down on it, but Republicans have a hard time squaring the fact that their spending cut plans will cost jobs with their broader message that President Obama’s stimulus plan harmed the economy.
At his weekly Capitol briefing with reporters Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stumbled into this contradiction.
“I can’t guarantee that somebody’s job might [not] be affected by reducing government spending,” McConnell acknowledged.
Republicans are typically loathe to admit this. House GOP leaders, for instance, have tried to argue for weeks that cutting spending will somehow create jobs. But they have had to soften their line recently to acknowledge that it might in fact cost jobs in the near-term.
It’s a difficult dance for Republicans, and pretty much all of them are on record now contradicting their own theory that cutting federal spending will somehow stimulate the economy. Seconds after McConnell acknowledged that the GOP will cost jobs, he reverted back to the Republican line that federal spending can’t improve the fledgling recovery.
“If government spending would stimulate the economy, we’d be in the middle of a boom,” he said. “We don’t think there’s any case that can be made that the failure to reduce government spending is gonna be disastrous to the economy. Chairman Bernanke was asked the question last week about the House-passed bill — whether it would have an adverse impact on the economy — and I believe his answer was he didn’t think so.”
In fact, though the Fed Chairman said GOP cuts wouldn’t fully upend the recovery, he told members of Congress that their plan would cost hundreds of thousands of jobs and harm GDP. “We need to address the deficit; that’s very important,” he told the House Financial Services Committee earlier this month. “But I think it would be most effective if we did that over a time-frame of five or 10 years and not try to do everything immediately.”
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.