What if?

Brad Delong ponders:

Suppose that Obama’s voters had turned out in 2010 to vote for down ballot offices in as large numbers as they turned out in 2008. Where would the US economy be now?

There would have been no tea party Republican Governors’ slashing of state employment, with attendance multiplier effect putting downward pressure on there (sic) and neighboring economies. There would have been no debt ceiling crisis to add substantially to economic uncertainty and increase the flight to quality. There would have been Larry Summers infrastructure bank, which would now be pumping out $200 billion a year in badly needed infrastructure investment.

Add all those up, and you get on economy with between $300 billion and $600 billion more of annual spending, depending on the multiplier. That is an economy with unemployment rate in the low 7s or the 6 percents. That’s an economy growing at 3 to 4% per year instead of 1 to 2% per year. That some economy with a lower projected deficits and debt to GDP ratio then the economy we have today. [emphasis mine]

The failure of marginal Obama 2008 voters to turn out for down ballot candidates in 2010 was a disaster for America.

The election of Mitt Romney and a supporting congress this November would be a much bigger disaster for America.

Obviously that’s pretty speculative.  And, yes, it’s a pretty rosy picture of how things would be if Democrats had held on to power.  Furthermore, I’m not quite as pessimistic about the future of the economy after a Republican victory as DeLong is — personally I think we’ll bounce back no matter what happens at some point during the next president’s term, though the timing, the type of growth, as well its extent and sustainability will in large part depend on who wins this fall.

That being said, DeLong isn’t just making this stuff up.  When you look at the facts about what’s resulted of the Tea Party agenda, it’s hard to overstate just how much damage the GOP has done in only a couple years.  Where they have had the power to implement their agenda — in state governments around the country — their gutting of budgets has decimated public sector employment.

Ezra Klein expounds on how much better off we’d be if public payrolls hadn’t been slashed so drastically:

Since Obama was elected, the public sector has lost about 600,000 jobs. If you put those jobs back, the unemployment rate would be 7.8 percent.

But what if we did more than that? At this point in George W. Bush’s administration, public-sector employment had grown by 3.7 percent. That would be equal to a bit over 800,000 jobs today. If you add those hypothetical jobs, the unemployment rate falls to 7.3 percent. [emphasis mine]

Who’s been responsible for these job losses?  As DeLong alludes to, overwhelmingly it’s been the Republican governors and state legislatures.

In past recoveries, this isn’t something the economy had to deal with.

It must be noted that President Obama’s jobs plan — the American Jobs Act — would send emergency relief funds to state and local governments to prevent more mass layoffs and rehire some of the teachers, police officers, and firefighters that have lost their jobs.  Republicans filibustered the bill.

Where Republicans haven’t had absolute power — namely in Washington, where they only hold a majority only in the House — they’ve used what power they do have to grind things to a halt.  The debt ceiling debacle, a crisis completely of their own making, was a disaster for the economy:

All told, the data tell us that a debt-ceiling standoff is an act of economic sabotage.


At a time when private businesses and consumers weren’t spending money (aka a recession), their answer — despite warnings from economists on both sides of the aisle — was for governments to stop paying people and buying things. (This is what “budget cuts” are.)  Smart.

At a time when the economy was incredibly fragile, they manufactured political crises — even threatening to force the US into a completely avoidable default on its debt obligations — that have eroded consumer confidence and certainty in the economy.

And now they point to all our problems and say, “See, Obama isn’t working.”


It’s a strategy that depends on people not paying paying attention.  Let’s hope that’s an assumption that doesn’t prove true.


About Hammertime
Georgetown sophomore, Job Creator.

One Response to What if?

  1. ajbarbosa says:

    The sick, sad fact of the matter is this: even if you could get the GOPers to realize and comprehend all of this, they still wouldn’t care because the well-educated Black man is still “killing our freedom” and carefully plotting out his plan to become “the next Chavez.”

    I don’t think there’s ever been a time when apathy has looked so appealing when it comes to American politics. The fact that so many people have blindly bought into the mindless fallacies and BS rhetoric of the GOP paints a very depressing portrait of the American people’s intelligence.

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