It’s a tad early in Mitch McConnell’s Senate reign to be labeling him a laughingstock. And yet, this week, he did utter quite the priceless thigh-slapper.
It was a Senate floor comment about the economy. Remember how, for six years, Republicans blamed the sour eco-stats on President Obama? How they coined the term “Obama’s economy” as a pejorative? How they kept saying that his (alleged) socialism was ruining the free enterprise system – to the point where Michael Boskin, a former Bush economic adviser, declared in The Wall Street Journal that “Obama’s radicalism is killing the Dow” and triggering “long-term economic stagnation”?
Well. Those catechisms have become very inconvenient, now that the Dow is hitting record highs and the jobless rate has dropped and business investment is seriously bullish and the selfsame Wall Street Journal says “the U.S. economy is among the world’s best off as 2015 begins.”
Hence McConnell’s plight. Life was easy when the economy was sluggish; Republicans could simply say it was all Obama’s fault. But now that the economy is getting better and better, they surely don’t want to say that perhaps Obama deserves some credit. Nah. That would require the Republicans to show some class, and, at least with respect to this president, they don’t do class.
So, in a statement on Wednesday, this is what McDonnell did instead. His second sentence provided the punch line:
“After so many years of sluggish growth, we’re finally starting to see some economic data that can provide a glimmer of hope. The uptick appears to coincide with the biggest political change of the Obama Administration’s long tenure in Washington – the expectation of a new Republican Congress.”
There you have it, the revisionist mantra: If the economy is bad, Obama made it bad; if the economy is good, the Republicans made it good.
That spin is downright Orwellian – considering the well-documented fact that the congressional GOP has done everything possible to impede Obama and slow economic growth. The GOP has repeatedly obstructed Obama’s infrastructure bills, which would’ve created roughly two million new construction jobs for the purpose of repairing our roads and bridges. The GOP shut down the government a year ago, costing the economy at least several billion dollars. The GOP successfully fought tooth and nail to scale down Obama’s economic stimulus program. The GOP’s threatened refusal to raise the debt ceiling in 2011 triggered the nation’s first-ever credit downgrade, and was denounced by noted economists as “an act of economic sabotage.” And so on.
Yet here’s McConnell, actually saying that the GOP deserves credit for the economic rebound – albeit with some rhetorical wiggle room (the bullish economy “appears to coincide” with the advent of a stronger Washington GOP), which is what my college economics professor used to call “a post hoc fallacy.” Otherwise known as the rooster claiming credit for the dawn.
Indeed, the funniest thing about McConnell’s statement is his core insinuation: that “the expectation of a new Republican Congress” has caused the economy to bounce back. That is a fascinating argument.
It’s widely known that consumer spending drives the economy; heck, even Fox Business says it is so. Therefore, what McConnell is essentially saying, in his twisted attempt to deny Obama any credit, is that consumers have dragged the economy out of its doldrums “in expectation of a new Republican Congress.”
Yeah, right. Let’s take bets on whether this kind of conversation took place in tens of millions of households in the summer and fall of 2014: “Hey, honey, let’s go wild at the mall today, because soon enough the Republicans are gonna control both chambers of Congress!”
Need I say more?