Monday, March 15, 2010

Memo to GOP: Don't You Know What the Definition of "Stimulus" Is?

Ah... Another week, another day, another chance for the GOoPers to bash the federal stimulus. Yes, that's right, they still don't like economic recovery. So what would happen if Johnny Casino, Suzy Lowdown, and Lil' Tark Shark were to get their way and Nevada were forced to let go of unspent stimulus funds?

It's not a pretty picture, to say the least.

Were that to happen, Dennis Freimann has perhaps the best vantage point on the potential effect. The No. 2 in charge at Nevada’s Recovery Act office, Freimann said if leftovers from the state’s $2.1 billion share of the money were returned, “Then we’re talking about a lot of people losing their jobs.” [...]

The Recovery Act is bringing $2.1 billion to Nevada — $1.2 billion in direct aid to residents, including unemployment benefits, a $250 one-time check to seniors, income tax cuts, COBRA health insurance subsidies and an expansion of Medicaid health insurance for the unemployed.

Another $924 million went to Nevada agencies to pay for teachers’ salaries, highway repairs, housing rehabilitation, forestry improvements and other programs. [...]

The Nevada Recovery Act office tallies 2,500 jobs saved or directly created by the $924 million sent to state agencies.

But economists put the actual number at 20,000 by factoring in the $1.2 billion in direct aid programs and the multiplier effect: If folks keep their jobs and have money to shop, store clerks keep their jobs, too.

“The idea that we’d be returning money we desperately need is ridiculous,” said Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley, who voted for the bill.

“We’re going to keep every penny that Nevada gets,” Berkley said. “Every senior in Nevada got a $250 check. Every disabled vet — I have 18,000 of them — got a $250 check. We also received a good amount of money for transportation and infrastructure. That’s creating jobs. We are spending that. There are good, important programs being paid for by the stimulus.”

Thank goodness Shelley Berkley, along with Harry Reid and Dina Titus, gets it. We'd be foolish to let go of money that can continue to be used to save jobs, create jobs, provide direct aid to those most in need, and fuel what's looking like a promising start to economic recovery in this country and here in Nevada.

And it's just hilarious to read about all these Republicans supposedly "concerned about fiscal responsibility". Really? So they forgot about what they did when George W. Bush was President? I don't remember them crying "fiscal responsibility" when he started two wars, passed loads of ridiculous tax cuts for the super-rich, and green-lighted tons and tons of the very "pork barrel spending" that Republicans claim the stimulus is (even though it isn't "pork", it's actual help).

And what's their solution now? More tax cuts for the super-rich, of course. Remember how that worked out? Desert Beacon does.

In the wake of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts we got a gross domestic product increasing by 13.9% over 19 quarters, for an average annual rate of 2.8%, well below the 3.4% GDP growth rate of the previous four cycles. The gross domestic income statistics weren't any brighter either: "activity expanded at only a 2.3% rate, more than a full percentage rate slower than the 3.6% GDI rate of past cycles." [EPI] And that job growth? As of 2004 the U.S. had only 1.6% more jobs than at the last business cycle peak 58 months previously. "At this stage of previous cycles jobs had grown by an average of 9.1% and never less than 6.5%. Private sector jobs were only 1% higher than in March 2001, compared to 9.1% in previous cycles, and the lowest previous employment gain was 6.9% in the private sector.

In terms of employment, the case for tax cuts wasn't substantiated: "In making the case for the tax cuts of 2003, the Bush Administration acknowledged that strong job growth should be expected without tax cuts. It projected that 4.1 million jobs would be created between mid-2003 and the end of 2004 without the 2003 tax cuts, and that 5.5 million jobs would be created with the tax cuts. In fact, Congress enacted even deeper tax cuts than those on which the Bush Administration’s estimates were based. Even so, only 2.6 million jobs were created over that 18-month period. Thus, by the Bush Administration’s own analysis, the 2003 tax cuts failed to create more jobs than would have been expected without the tax cuts."

It's not like we weren't warned. In February 2003, 450 top economists, including 10 of the 20 American Nobel prize winning experts warned the Bush Administration that the 2003 tax cuts would have a negative, not positive, effect on the U.S. economy. [Letter] "Regardless of how one views the specifics of the Bush plan, there is wide agreement that its purpose is a permanent change in the tax structure and not the creation of jobs and growth in the near-term. The permanent dividend tax cut, in particular, is not credible as a short-term stimulus. As tax reform, the dividend tax cut is misdirected in that it targets individuals rather than corporations, is overly complex, and could be, but is not, part of a revenue-neutral tax reform effort. Passing these tax cuts will worsen the long-term budget outlook, adding to the nation’s projected chronic deficits. This fiscal deterioration will reduce the capacity of the government to finance Social Security and Medicare benefits as well as investments in schools, health, infrastructure, and basic research. Moreover, the proposed tax cuts will generate further inequalities in after-tax income." They were right.

If, like Senator Ensign, we adopt the notion that tax cuts, and only tax cuts, are the key to expanding our gross domestic product, increasing our own gross domestic income, and creating more employment, then in the face of statistical proof to the contrary the only way forward is more tax cuts.

And if this isn't enough for you, Desert Beacon has even more on Johnny Casino's and the GOP's hypocrisy on "fiscal responsibility". Oh, and by the way, if the stimulus were so evil why are Johnny Casino, Arizona's Johnny Mac, and other GOoPers still lining up for more stimulus funds? Isn't that just more hypocrisy coming from them?

Oh yeah, that's right, we're talking about the Republican Party. They're always pro-hypocrisy, no matter how many of their other positions change daily (and nightly, for that matter).

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