Using the Crisis as an Excuse

Andrew Leonard had a post entitled The silliest Republican economic proposal yet. He may want to reconsider that call:

Republicans Propose ‘No Cost’ Stimulus, Fox News: SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And in “Your America” tonight, another economic plan is also emerging tonight. The Republicans have proposed an alternative to the president’s $787 billion stimulus package, and it costs a little bit less. Zero dollars. And it also promises to create two million new jobs without any of your money.

Joining us Congressman John Shadegg and Senator David Vitter. They’re here to explain.

All right. Now we keep hearing from the Democrats well, the Republicans, they need to — they need an alternative proposal. You have an alternative proposal.

Congressman Shadegg, we’ll start with you.

JOHN SHADEGG (R), ARIZONA CONGRESSMAN: We do have an alternative proposal. It looks at the fact that we spent billions of dollars on this stimulus package taxing the American people and burdening future generations with little to show for it. And many of us believe it will not produce Americans jobs.

With unemployment rates going up how can we produce American jobs? And the answer is we have had a non-energy policy in this country for a very long time. The reality is we are giving jobs to oil fieldworkers and natural gas fieldworkers in Russia and Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, when we should be putting those people to work here in the United States.


SHADEGG: Now Senator Vitter and I have drafted a bill that says let’s put Americans to work, let’s pursue the fight we had last summer of an all of the above energy strategy, let’s clear the bureaucracy out of the way, and let’s move forward with American jobs, producing American energy. …

So opening ANWR and easing restrictions on offshore drilling is (a) free (never mind the potential environmental costs, those don’t count if you’re a Republican), and (b) will create 2 million jobs by taking them from other countries (the jobs will come from commies and terrorists, foreigners in any case, so no problem there, no need to count the costs to those workers).

This is, of course, silly and simply a way to use the crisis to push a favorite Republican proposal, something they do routinely (a terrorist threat? looks like we need another tax cut…). But I’m curious why the standard Republican objection to attempted job creation through changes in taxes or spending – that the jobs will simply be taken from other industries – doesn’t apply here (if the jobs do come from other industries, it’s not “costless” as claimed). Or are there, as Democrats claim, idle resources sitting around just waiting to be put back to work?

About Mark Thoma 243 Articles

Affiliation: University of Oregon

Mark Thoma is a member of the Economics Department at the University of Oregon. He joined the UO faculty in 1987 and served as head of the Economics Department for five years. His research examines the effects that changes in monetary policy have on inflation, output, unemployment, interest rates and other macroeconomic variables with a focus on asymmetries in the response of these variables to policy changes, and on changes in the relationship between policy and the economy over time. He has also conducted research in other areas such as the relationship between the political party in power, and macroeconomic outcomes and using macroeconomic tools to predict transportation flows. He received his doctorate from Washington State University.

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