Having pretty much conceded big Republican gains -- perhaps a takeover -- of the U.S. Senate in the upcoming congressional election, the New York Times is working to strangle whatever ideological gains a potential GOP majority in both houses of Congress might make, whether the issue be immigration or economics. The latest example: Jackie Calmes' front-page story Thursday, "Economists See Limited Gains in G.O.P. Plan."
Anticipating a takeover of Congress, Republicans have assembled an economic agenda that reflects their small-government, antiregulation philosophy, but also suggests internal divisions that could hinder a united front against President Obama – much as happened in the 1990s, when a Republican-led Congress confronted President Bill Clinton.
The proposals would mainly benefit energy industries, reduce taxes and regulations for businesses generally, and continue the attack on the Affordable Care Act. It is a mix that leaves many economists, including several conservatives, underwhelmed.
With the prospect of Republicans’ winning control of the Senate and maintaining control of the House in the midterm elections, interest is rising over what they would do to address what polls show is voters’ top concern: economic growth and jobs.
The list includes measures to approve the Keystone XL pipeline; expand offshore oil drilling; block federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”; and open national forests to timber companies. Also making the cut were more parochial measures, like water projects in central Oregon and in California’s San Joaquin Valley, and rules allowing business owners to record phone calls or meetings with federal regulators.
But Senate Republicans -- many of whom must appeal to a broader range of voters than House Republicans, who mainly represent overwhelmingly conservative districts -- chose just nine of those House measures for their own “bipartisan jobs list.”
Calmes strangely faulted the Republican Party for not adhering to recommendations by the IMF (?) on government infrastructure spending, and falsely conflated GOP opposition to amnesty for illegal immigrants with loosening restrictions on foreigners with high-tech skills, which is supported by most Republicans. She hid her own obvious opinion behind the fig-leaf of stating what "many economists" believe.
Missing from both Republican lists are two pillars of Mr. Obama’s agenda that many economists consider important for expanding the labor force and promoting long-run growth.
One is significantly higher spending for infrastructure. The International Monetary Fund recently called for such spending, saying it would pay off in broader economic growth.
The other is an overhaul of immigration laws. Despite business pressure to provide a path to citizenship for the millions here illegally, and to admit more foreigners with skills, Republicans’ opposition has only hardened in this campaign. A bipartisan Senate-passed bill on immigration would increase economic growth by 3.3 percent in a decade and save $175 billion by then, the Congressional Budget Office estimated.
Following the partisan Democratic playbook, Calmes insisted that the GOP hurt the economy with the government shutdown and "across-the-board spending cuts that have been a drag on the economic recovery.... Congressional Republicans, however, have said they are committed to continuing those spending cuts."
Meanwhile, the key to winning voter approval was conveniently ensconced in liberal policies (so why are the Republicans geared to make huge gains in two weeks?):
But while the president is not popular, polls show that his economic proposals are, like a higher minimum wage, increased spending for infrastructure and higher taxes on the wealthy.
When Mr. Obama sent Congress his jobs package three years ago, several forecasting firms estimated that it could add up to 150,000 jobs a month in the first year. He challenged Republicans to propose alternatives that could be similarly assessed.
Joel Prakken, founder of Macroeconomic Advisers, who had analyzed business tax cuts of the sort proposed by Republicans "that would permanently allow deductions up front for the cost of new equipment," found them wanting and "As for repealing the health law, 'that would create a lot of economic uncertainty, and uncertainty is bad." So why change anything, ever?
In conclusion, Calmes tried to catch Republican House Speaker John Boehner in an exceedingly lame gotcha! moment:
Despite the environmental regulations that Republicans want to soften or end, the energy industry is booming -- as even Mr. Boehner acknowledged last month in outlining his agenda at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank.