Why Eric Cantor Has No Answers

by Jonathan Cohn | October 17, 2011

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Give Chris Wallace and Fox News credit. On Sunday, Wallace repeatedly asked House Majority Leader Eric Cantor tough questions about the Republican jobs plan. And Cantor repeatedly failed to answer them.

Here’s a partial transcript:

WALLACE:  Congressman Cantor, do you have an independent analysis that shows how this plan would grow the economy and add jobs?
CANTOR: First of all, I would say as to the Moody's economist that the president speaks to, they and their chief economist was the one that predicted that the stimulus program would keep unemployment from rising above 8 percent. So, I think we need to raise some questions about that assessment of his.
WALLACE: In fairness, he was an economic adviser to John McCain in 2008, Mark Zandi, and the fact there's a lot of the private economic firms that say whether it's 1 percent or 2 percent growth, a million jobs, 2 million jobs, that it would have some stimulative affect.
CANTOR: Let's look at this. There has --
WALLACE: Here's a question, do you have independent scoring of what your plan does?
CANTOR: We have -- we put forward a plan on the beginning of the year, our budget, OK, and we had independent Congressional Budget Office scoring which did several things. It talked about the fact that our plan actually dealt with the one crisis bringing down the debt and deficit over $6 trillion and it did talk about the ability for our plan to grow new jobs, yes. So, we've got that kind of analysis.
WALLACE: But you don't on this jobs plan?
CANTOR: Well, what this jobs plan is taking pieces of our overall vision for this country and saying, you know what? We've got to provide incentive for the private sector to grow.
You know, look at the facts, Chris. Since the president has taken office. There's been 1.6 million jobs lost in the private sector net. We've also seen the fact that 7.5 million foreclosures during this president's term.
Obviously, his economic plans are not working. That's why we are trying to say we've got to change directions here. We've got to focus on private enterprise and small business. We've got to get the entrepreneurs back in the game. And that's our plan does.

There’s a reason Cantor kept dodging the question. He has no answer. Republican leaders in the House and Senate have each put out job plans. But the plans have slogans, not specifics: Less regulation, repeal Obamacare, cut taxes, and so on. Professional forecasters can't make serious estimates without more information.

Now, the Republicans could come forward with such details soon. And maybe they will. But, if they do, it's unlikely the forecasters will conclude the plans have potential to boost jobs significantly in the near future. Why? Because Republicans aren't proposing the kind of measures that most forecasters believe create jobs during economic crises like this one.

Don’t take my word for it. Here’s Gus Faucher, director of macroeconomics at Moody’s Analytics. Greg Sargent had the good sense to interview him last Friday:

Should we look at regulations and make sure they make sense from a cost benefit standpoint? Certainly. Should we reduce the budget deficit over the long run? Certainly. But in the short term, demand is weak, businesses aren’t hiring, and consumers aren’t spending. That’s the cause of the current weakness — and Republican Senate proposals aren’t going to address that in the short term. ... In fact, they could be harmful in the short run, if the focus is on cutting spending,. They don’t say explicitly when they would cut spending, but the Republican focus is on cutting spending sooner and later.

As Steve Benen says, "shouldn’t it tell the political world something important when there are two alternatives to job creation, and one is terrified of economic analysis and examination?"

 

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/jonathan-cohn/96375/cantor-republican-jobs-moodys-stimulus-obama