So Obvious Even MSNBC Gets It

by Brien Jackson

This exchange between Norah O’Donnell and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), is incredibly funny, and incredibly instructive about Republican opposition to the stimulus.

The relevant point:

REP. MCARTHY: Refurbishing a building, putting new grass down in a mall. That doesn’t create buildings. That doesn’t creates jobs.

O’DONNELL: Really? I would think you have to hire somebody to put the new sod down on the National Mall.

Well yeah, of course you would. That’s pretty obvious when you think about it for more than a couple of seconds, or without the radio on in the background. Someone has to do these things, and they’re going to have to be paid for them, which puts money in their pocket in return for something concrete. Retrofitting buildings is an even better deal. In the short run it creates work for the construction industry, keeping cash flowing to employees while, in the long run, it increases efficiency and lowers energy costs.

The unfortunate thing about Republican “ideas” is how much sense they seem to make if you dont really stop to think about them, or if you have them pounded into your head all day long by right-wing messengers. Sure, on the face of it the idea that if you get an extra $500 in tax cuts you might run out and buy a new television at Wal-Mart makes some sense, but think about it for a second. With the economic downturn, are you really going to buy something like a television, or are you going to put it towards bills? Or hold onto it in case things get worse? There’s nothing wrong with either of those actions, indeed that’d be the responsible thing to do, but neither one is particularly good stimulus (although there’s a lot of merit to the idea of tax credits to help lower income people pay their bills, but that’s another matter). On the other hand, even if you do run out and buy $500 worth of worthless shit from Wal-Mart, how many new employees is Wal-Mart actually going to have to employ because of it? Not very many, in the best case scenario. The manufacturer of the things you buy doesn’t have to hire anyone new, they’ve already made the thing you just bought, and its unlikely that they’re going to expand production. But the tax cuts are awfully good for rich people, who can stick the extra money in the bank and ride out the hard times. And if it’s good for rich people, Republicans are all for it.

But don’t let that substitute for a sound economic policy, and don’t let the wingnuts get away with it now either.