It is the invasion of Iraq all over again. Once again, the media is reporting on Republican policy as if it makes perfect sense when even the most cursory analysis or casual glance at historical lessons suggest that in the direction they point lies madness.
I get voter frustration with how slowly the economy - and employment in particular - has responded to the Bush / Obama bailout / stimulus plan. I do. This is a very slow, weak, and expensive recovery. Frustration is perfectly normal and we should be asking what more or different we can do to create jobs.
I do NOT get how this then translates into a plan to attack the deficit. No one has explained to me how either cutting government spending or raising taxes (or both) in the face of double-digit employment will create jobs. It seems to me that most any analysis - whether casual, intuitive, theoretical, or rigorous - would suggest that cutting government spending now would result in government contractors and government employees losing their jobs. (Or, if you want to reduce the deficit by raising taxes, it's unclear how such a plan would help to create more private sector jobs.)
The Republicans had not stupid politically. They know to capitalize on voter frustration and will likely gain seats because of it. But the Republicans of the last decade or two have a terrible and costly instinct for doing the wrong thing.
When the economy was growing and we were near full employment, the Bush administration cut taxes and raised spending. Bush stimulated the economy even when it was already healthy. The result? Froth on the bubble. Home prices rose. Stock prices rose. Debt rose. And government policy just made the equity / housing bubble bigger before it popped. Republican policy exacerbated the bubble.
Now what the Republicans are proposing will exacerbate the bust. We have near double-digit unemployment and Republicans now want to shrink or eliminate the deficit. Putting fuel on the fire during the Bush administration was terrible, helping to trigger the Great Recession. Now trying to douse the fire that’s barely burning would be madness.
I am just tired of the media pretending that such proposals make any sense. There are reasonable conservative positions (one need only look across the Atlantic to David Cameron to see this), but the Republicans do not represent them. In keeping with the tea party theme, perhaps it is time to retire the elephant as a symbol of the GOP. I think a mad hatter would be a better symbol.