If you’re hoping that Nancy Pelosi’s picks for the Congressional Super Committee have either the wisdom or courage to stand against the job-killing spending cuts Obama and Congress imposed on the nation, you’ll be disappointed.

Two of Nancy Pelosi’s picks, Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), revealed that their understanding of depression economics is no better than Herbert Hoover’s or Michele Bachmann’s. From Brian Buetler at TPM:

Democrats on the new joint deficit Super Committee will seek more than the $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction they’ve been tasked with finding, in order to help offset some of those costs [of funding jobs programs].

“All of us would like to set as a target for ourselves even more than $1.5 trillion,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who’s also the top House Democrat on the Budget Committee, told reporters at a Tuesday Capitol press conference. . . .

Committee member Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) agrees with Van Hollen, and says he’d be willing to put key progressive programs on the table if it gives Congress more running room to shore up the economy now.

“It’s incumbent upon the Congress and the government not to make things worse,” Becerra said. “I’m looking at the last six months and I’m not seeing how job growth has come from some of this cutting of services, but again I’ll be open to it so long as…there’s proof that the proposal will lead to job growth and deficit reduction.”

Where do they come up with these absurd notions? The answer is: from the White House, where the President told them and the American people that the debt deal would “create room” for doing some useful things. That’s beyond wrong, beyond stupid.

Apparently, these clueless Dems believe there’s a finite pile of money somewhere to be spent or borrowed — possibly in the basement below Tim Geithner’s Treasury Building or under John Boehner’s tanning bed — and they’re not permitted to use any of it to fund jobs unless they simultaneously put an equal amount back.

So they have to cut back on other government spending or let the jobless remain jobless. Didn’t need that for wars, or for multiple tax cuts or this fiscal year’s budget; it’s a new thing. Even the simple notion that it makes sense to borrow at zero real interest rates now, spend it on whatever the country needs now, and pay it back/raise taxes later, seems to be beyond their understanding.

Even if Pelosi’s picks get their way, we’re likely to get the same results Congress and FDR achieved in 1937, when the federal government contracted and imposed a balanced budget on an economy still struggling to get out of the depression: they’ll rekindle a recession and put lots more people out of work.

What do they think is holding up the economy now? Offsets?

Once you buy their logic, it follows that Eric Cantor is being perfectly sensible to demand that before we provide emergency funding to help victims of the latest natural disasters, we must offset it by, e.g., defunding the national weather service and laying off first responders.

It’s more than depressing, in many ways, that 75 years after the Great Depression, prominent Congressmen don’t have a clue about national income accounting.

Of course, this should not be surprising. Ms. Pelosi told us weeks ago that we “live in the age of austerity,” so why not choose mindless austerians to punish the nation? But there’s nothing requiring elected officials to accept that ignorant belief, because it’s nuts. Daily headlines from Europe are virtually screaming how disastrous austerity is when nations are on the verge of financial collapse.

There is an absolute necessity for more government deficit spending when the private sector is still recovering from losing $8 trillion in housing wealth and more in related economic activity, and when net exports are negative and likely to get worse as our European trading partners perform their own version of economic suicide. There’s no more effective way to lift the economy and fund jobs.

The Democrats don’t seem to realize that the implicit mandate of the Super Committee is to tank the economy and put millions more out of work — and hence provide the grounds for throwing them out of office. The Tea-Zombies may not care, but if Dems had any sense of self preservation, never mind economic principles or concern for the nation’s well being, they would be working day and night to overturn the mandate without triggering the automatic cuts Congress and the President so foolishly mandated.

We don’t need, and the country cannot survive, two Tea Parties or two wings of the Corporate Party. The age we live in demands just the opposite of the austerity delusions the Democratic leaders and the President have ignorantly, recklessly embraced. And come 2012, voters will have every reason to show them all what the phrase “you’re fired” means.



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