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Reason No. 46,872 Why John McCain and Republicans Have Wrecked the Economy

John McCain is an irresponsible, immature clown, and because he’s a clown, he tends to associate with other clowns, such as Tom Coburn. McCain and Coburn gave what they hope is a gullible media a list of the 100 worst projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), also known as the “stimulus” Act. But every project on that list is likely better than what these clowns want to do with the same money.

To be sure, as long as Congress allows itself to be bribed as the means to getting elected, there will always be programs funded by government that are foolish or less worthy than other projects that should have been funded under some concept of the public interest. So it’s appropriate for government watchdogs and the media to point that out how to improve government spending and avoid waste.

But that’s not what the McCain and Coburn clowns are doing here. They’re trying to muddy the waters about what stimulus spending is about so as to obscure the Republicans’ wholesale failure to do anything to help the economy recover. If they were to come up with a list of the 100 most worthwhile projects/programs that should have been funded to create jobs or economic growth, but were not funded under ARRA, then perhaps the media should take them seriously. But these men are clowns.

To it’s credit, CNN at least took the trouble of checking on several items on the clowns’ list and discovered (no surprise) the clowns had misrepresented the facts; as CNN points out, the projects’ public purpose could have been discovered with a clarifying phone call or Google search. But clarity is not the clowns’ goal.

What’s really happening here is the Coburn/McCain clowns are implicitly conceding that if a project is worth doing, then stimulus spending for that project would have been worth doing as a boost to the economy. If that’s true, then the next question becomes, “notwithstanding the 100 questionable projects (many of which turned out to be worthwhile), was the bulk of the stimulus spending okay? The clowns can’t tell us, because they haven’t asked the question.

Further, neither of these clowns provides us with a list of the 100 most deserving projects that should have been funded but which were left out. And why haven’t the McCain and Coburn offered legislation to fund those worthwhile projects?

But this is all diversion. The stimulus concept was worth pursuing even if the “projects” had little or no value beyond the spending itself. Increasing spending, getting that money into the economy, was the point. The selected projects merely tell us how much more value (or increase in GDP) could be “bought” from that spending. (cont’d.)

So what would John McCain’s economic adviser, Mark Zandi, tell us? He’d say that if you give a worker $100 to dig a ditch and another worker $100 to fill it up, that’s two jobs and $200 that will become stimulus spending that would not otherwise occur.

So if you dig a million such ditches, and lay new sewer or water pipes to replace our failing infrastructure, that’s at least $200 million in stimulative spending. With a likely multiplier factor of 1.5 (Zandi and many economists agree here) that’s like $300 million in total effect on GDP that would not otherwise occur.

And the question still stands: what would the GOP spend money on to stimulate the economy, if not what it was spent on? So far, the only “program” all Republicans have endorsed so far is a straight-up gift (tax cuts) to the wealthy.

The rich would no doubt appreciate such a gift, but Mr. Zandi would be obliged to tell his Senator that gifts to the rich have less of a stimulative effect than paying the otherwise unemployed to dig/fill in ditches, with or without new pipes. Paying the ditch diggers has about 5 times the effect as gifts to the rich, because as Mark Zandi and every responsible economist agrees, the rich don’t spend as much proportionally as the otherwise unemployed workers.

If McCain and Corker weren’t clowns, they’d have to agree with their economic advisers that to help the economy, we need more ditches, and other infrastructure spending, and fewer gifts to the rich. And recall that the total effective stimulus was only about $600 billion, while the increased deficit over a decade of extending Bush tax cuts for the wealth would be over $600 billion.

John McCain could have been President. The Republicans want to take over Congress. But their economic/jobs policy is to withhold money from workers doing public works projects that need to be done and would help the economy now and in the future, and give the same money — as an outright gift — to rich people.

This is why America would have made an even worse mistake by making John McCain President, and why electing Republicans (or conservaDems) would be equally foolish. We have enough clowns already.

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Reason No. 46,872 Why John McCain and Republicans Have Wrecked the Economy

John McCain is an irresponsible, immature clown, and because he’s a clown, he tends to associate with other clowns, such as Tom Coburn. McCain and Coburn gave what they hope is a gullible media a list of the 100 worst projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), also known as the "stimulus" Act. But every project on that list is likely better than what these clowns want to do with the same money.

To it’s credit, CNN at least took the trouble to check on several items on the clowns’ list. CNN discovered (no surprise) the clowns had misrepresented the facts; as CNN points out, the projects’ public purpose could have been discovered with a clarifying phone call or Google search. But clarity is not the clowns’ goal.

To be sure, as long as Congress allows itself to be bribed as the means to getting elected, there will always be programs funded by government that are foolish or less worthy than other projects that should have been funded under some concept of the public interest. So it’s appropriate for government watchdogs and the media to point that out how to improve government spending and avoid waste.

But that’s not what the McCain and Coburn clowns are doing here. They’re trying to muddy the waters about what stimulus spending is about so as to obscure the Republicans’ wholesale failure to do anything to help the economy recover — to obscure that they’ve done everything they can to wreck the economy. If they were to come up with a list of the 100 most worthwhile projects/programs that should have been funded to create jobs or economic growth, but were not funded under ARRA, then perhaps the media should take them seriously. But these men are not serious; they’re irresponsible clowns.
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John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

You can follow John on twitter: @JohnChandley