As Ed pointed out this morning, the White House’s more recent attitude on the pathetic state of the American economy has run somewhere along the lines of, “Maybe if we just don’t talk about it, people will forget that it actually exists” — but the report of the 4th quarter economic contraction at least roused them from their apathy just long enough to blame Republicans’ political tactics for the downturn.
In heralding what he expects will be a “strong, bipartisan vote” to extend the debt ceiling later this afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pretty much seconded that thoughtful sentiment on the Senate floor (click the image to watch at RCP):
Just a brief comment on my friend, the Republican leader’s, statement. He continues bad-mouthing the recovery. We are in a recovery. The moral of the fourth quarter is a repudiation of the Republican playbook. Growth went down in the fourth quarter because of reduced government spending, and a reticence in the private sector as government fought over the fiscal cliff. And that fight came as a result of the Republicans being so unreasonable. … The economy was rejecting the austerity and brinkmanship… The Republican playbook of continually complaining about spending is something — we know we have to do something about spending, we understand that, but there’s more to making our economy recover than just continually harping on what’s going on with spending. …We also have to do something to have a fair program. … Is it fair that the Republicans continue to want to go after Social Security, Medicare, even food stamps, that benefits the poorest of the poor, let’s start talking about fairness.
Okay, if you’re turning the recently exploded food stamp program into some sort of politically unassailable sacred cow, and excoriating Republicans for ‘attacking’ the entitlement programs that are absolutely the main drivers of our unusustainable deficits, then clearly, you do not understand (or perhaps, care) that we need to “do something” about spending.
And, I’m sorry — “bad-mouthing”? Does mentioning the irrefutable fact that our employment situation has grown so much worse during Obama’s tenure offend you somehow? Via Jim Pethokoukis, this is the share of the labor force that is actually working or actively seeking a job:
More “fairness” is precisely what we don’t need to be talking about — and the federal government’s attempts to orchestrate “fairness” is exactly what’s perpetuating the longest recovery, evah. And yes, one of the reasons behind the fourth quarter GDP contraction was very likely a reduction of government spending — because there are certain sectors of our economy that are specifically set up to work with the government, and they can’t readjust to the absence of that spending overnight. But the overarching point is that the government does far too many things, and we’ve gotten used to an economy that is not nearly as robust, productive, or innovative as it could be if the government would just stop trying to do so many things and spending our money for us.