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Republicans Take Credit for Jobs Report

It was inevitable and not really even worth rebutting that Republicans are somehow taking credit for today’s decent February jobs report. Before I introduce you to their argument, let’s go over the three (3) bills that have passed since Republicans came into control of the House:

1) renaming a courthouse in Arizona after John Roll, who was murdered in the Tuscon shooting;
2) extending the Patriot Act for 90 days;
3) extending government funding for two weeks, with $4 billion in cuts added.

Now, the third one happened this week, so it wouldn’t have any impact on February jobs numbers. So unless an army of 100,000 people are changing the nameplates on that Arizona courthouse, and the other 100,000 are busily employed getting wiretaps on US citizens, Republican “credit” is totally bogus.

But you see, their argument isn’t based on any legislation passed, but just a feeling. This is from Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the House Republican conference:

The improvement in our nation’s jobs report is welcome news and demonstrates the resilience of the free enterprise economy in spite of the onslaught of the Democrats’ big government agenda. But the real question is why is it taking so long and why is the recovery so weak? The modest improvement can be attributed to two factors – the free-market economy is slowly moving toward a recovery from this deep recession, and with Republicans controlling one lever of the lawmaking powers, job creators know the upper limits of the Democrats’ legislative pain is behind them.

Nothing can be more uncertain than what Republicans have put the economy through over the past month. They waited until the final days to extend the government’s funding, and then did so only for two weeks. Nobody knows how things will turn out after March 18. They haven’t given too much certainty about raising the debt limit, which could cause a financial catastrophe. They want to block implementation of the health care law, which has a massive impact on businesses and creates significant uncertainty about what their costs as employers will end up being. Same with the effort to block EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. It wasn’t so long ago – like months – when uncertainty was seen as a the biggest obstacle for job creation. Republicans ushered in a whole mess of it.

But, House Speaker John Boehner says, it was the tax cut deal that really stopped the bleeding here, and brought certainty to job creators. Those would be the tax cuts which expire again in less than two years (some of them in less than a year, actually).

But Boehner actually gives the credit to “the American voters” for forcing the tax cut deal forward. OK, it’s at least a little more modest. But let me then ask another question. The American voters have no interest in massive near-term budget cuts, not when you ask them about specifics. This has been polled time and time again with the same result. Yet the House GOP plan would cut those budget items in the near term, risking hundreds of thousands of jobs in the process.

So when those cuts kick in, will Boehner take credit on behalf of the American voters, who told him and his colleagues in no uncertain terms that they didn’t want them, or the economic fallout that resulted from them?

Somehow, I think not.

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David Dayen

David Dayen