Are Republicans Sabotaging the Economy?

From Steve Benen at the Washington Monthly:

There’s been at least some discussion this year about the “sabotage” question — whether Republicans are deliberately hurting the country, holding back the economy on purpose, for the express purpose of undermining the Obama presidency.

…Given recent events — the debt-ceiling scandal, the GOP-driven downgrade, the Republican rejection of any efforts to boost the economy, the GOP leadership’s letter to Bernanke pleading with him to let the economy suffer, the repeated threats of government shutdowns, tonight’s death of the American Jobs Act — it appears all kinds of serious people are at least entertaining the possibility.

As a result, it at least seems like a question worthy of some debate. Given the circumstances, there’s ample reason for credible observers to at least ponder the possibility and ask Republican leaders for an explanation for their behavior.

Want an explanation?

Here it is: Obama’s trillion-dollar stimulus was an utter and complete failure. Repeating it is nothing but throwing good money after bad.

Moreover, Republicans are willing to “boost the economy,” but we believe you boost the economy by cutting taxes and regulations, neither of which Democrats have any interest in doing.

We also believe that America’s debt is an urgent and growing problem and we don’t buy the idea that government spending is driving the economy. After all, if government spending were a key factor in government growth, we’d have the fastest growing economy in the world instead of being on the verge of dipping another recession despite racking up an enormous deficit.

Last but not least, here’s an alternate theory, one that has been broached as much on the Right as the idea that the GOP is “sabotaging” the economy has been on the Left: Barack Obama NEVER intended to pass this latest stimulus bill. He pushed a bill that was deliberately intended to fail so he could attempt to blame the miserable failure of his presidency on a “do nothing Congress.”

The very fact that Obama didn’t work with Republicans in Congress to craft the bill in the first place is evidence of that. Obviously, since Republicans control the House, Obama was going to need their votes, right? So, did he bring John Boehner to the White House to talk about what they’d need to pass a bill? No. Did he bring Mitch McConnell to the White House to talk about how to get the bill to 60 votes in the Senate? No. Instead, he introduced a bill that he knew would be a non-starter with Republicans and he hasn’t put any effort into working with them to get them on board.

In other words, this is all a big political game which was designed to produce exactly the result it has, just so liberals like Steven Benen at the Washington Monthly can cynically pretend to be shocked, shocked I tell you, that Republicans aren’t going along with Obama.

P.S.: If Obama wanted to pass a bill that stimulated the economy by cutting taxes and slashing regulations, I don’t think he’d have any trouble at all getting the Republican votes to pass it. The problem is that Obama’s base, which is largely comprised of the sort of economic illiterates who attend the Occupy Wall Street protests, would have a fit if he did that. So, Obama has just given up, crossed his fingers, and is hoping the economy will turn around on its own, despite everything his administration has done to stifle it.

This was originally published at The Huffington Post.

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