The Republican Party this week issued its Pledge To America. The sub-title suggests that it is somehow a new governing agenda built on the priorities, principles, and values of our nation. It is neither new, nor founded on anything like America’s founding principles and values. It contains so many distortions and misrepresentations and half-truths that it is hard to decide where to start.
The first thing that the Republican pledge purports to be is a plan to create jobs, end economic uncertainty, and make America more competitive. The misrepresentations ensue. The plan outlines the Republican talking points: the government’s heavy handed approach to our economy must end, jobless claims continue to soar, and it’s time to end the “liberal Keynesian experiment” that prevents employers from investing in our economy. Here’s some reality.
The Federal government did need to step in and take immediate action to save the economy during the final months of the Bush administration, and in the first months after President Obama was sworn in. The reason was that our economy was on the brink of complete collapse. Republican assertions notwithstanding, the bailouts and stimulus were game changers.
Fortunately for the American people, Ben Bernanke, a student of American economic history, was at the helm at the Federal Reserve, and he, along with officials at Treasury understood that the error made during the Great Depression of the 1930s was that the government did not move far or fast enough. Even President Bush, who contributed mightily to getting us into this mess, should at least be credited for knowing when to get out of the way and let smarter people than he fix what he had broken.
The assertion that weekly initial jobless claims continue to soar is just not factual. Weekly first-time jobless claims are down approximately 15 to 20 percent from a year ago, and they fluctuate week to week. Recently reported weekly fluctuations have suggested a further downward trend.
The “liberal Keynesian experiment” the Republicans are ranting about is, simply put, the very same fiscal policy that the government has used effectively for about 70 years to reduce the impact of economic downturns on American workers and the American economy. The idea being that when we go into a recession — which means that people and businesses are experiencing hardships that lead them to spend less — the government steps in to buy goods and services to keep the problem from getting worse. The alternative is a downward spiral — unemployed workers and declining businesses reduce spending further, and that leads to more layoffs and a further decline in economic activity.
The Republican rant also includes the bizarre assertion that the “constant threat” of new taxes somehow prevents investors and entrepreneurs from putting capital at risk. Guess they don’t understand capitalism 101. Investors and entrepreneurs definitely don’t like economic uncertainty, or increased taxes.