Americans For Tax Reform Clouds The Truth About Rep. Joe Sestak

October 26, 2010 1:34 pm ET

In its latest attack, Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform accuses Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) of "reckless" spending in an ad depicting money notes strewn through thick fog. The Recovery Act has actually saved and created millions of jobs, and the tax reform advocates at ATR should know that the stimulus included $288 billion in tax relief. Furthermore, the bailouts may be unpopular but they helped prevent another Great Depression.

Americans For Tax Reform: "No To Joe"

In Congress, there may be one thing Joe Sestak loves more than anything else:  Sestak voted to raise taxes by over $500 billion.  Voted for Pelosi's reckless stimulus. Voted for bailouts of automakers and Wall Street.  Sestak's even handed out millions in earmarks for special interests.  Higher taxes.  Reckless spending.  Bailouts.  It's clear:  Joe Sestak loves wasting our money.  It's time for Joe to go.  Americans for Tax Reform is responsible for the content of this advertising. 

The Recovery Act Created Millions Of Jobs And Boosted The Economy

The Economy Shed Almost 8 Million Jobs Under Republican Policies Before The Recovery Act Was Passed. According to economist Robert J. Shapiro:

From December 2007 to July 2009 - the last year of the Bush second term and the first six months of the Obama presidency, before his policies could affect the economy - private sector employment crashed from 115,574,000 jobs to 107,778,000 jobs. Employment continued to fall, however, for the next six months, reaching a low of 107,107,000 jobs in December of 2009. So, out of 8,467,000 private sector jobs lost in this dismal cycle, 7,796,000 of those jobs or 92 percent were lost on the Republicans' watch or under the sway of their policies. Some 671,000 additional jobs were lost as the stimulus and other moves by the administration kicked in, but 630,000 jobs then came back in the following six months. The tally, to date: Mr. Obama can be held accountable for the net loss of 41,000 jobs (671,000 - 630,000), while the Republicans should be held responsible for the net losses of 7,796,000 jobs. [Sonecon.com, 8/10/10, emphasis added]

Based on Shapiro's research, the Washington Post's Ezra Klein created the following chart showing net job losses before and after the Recovery Act was enacted:

Klein

[Washington Post8/12/10]

CBO: The Recovery Act Created Jobs, Lowered Unemployment, And Boosted GDP. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, through the second quarter of 2010, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:

  • Raised the level of real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) by between 1.7 percent and 4.5 percent,
  • Lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.7 percentage points and 1.8 percentage points,
  • Increased the number of people employed by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million, and
  • Increased the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) jobs by 2.0 million to 4.8 million compared with what those amounts would have been otherwise.

[CBO, 8/24/10]

Reuters: The Recovery Act May Have "Prevented The Sluggish Economy From Contracting" Between April And June. According to Reuters:

The massive U.S. stimulus package put millions of people to work and boosted national output by hundreds of billions of dollars in the second quarter, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said on Tuesday.

CBO's latest estimate indicates that the stimulus effort, which remains a political hot potato ahead of the November congressional elections, may have prevented the sluggish U.S. economy from contracting between April and June.

CBO said President Barack Obama's stimulus boosted real GDP in the quarter by between 1.7 percent and 4.5 percent, adding at least $200 billion in economic activity. [Reuters via ABC News, 8/24/10]

Job Statistics Trend Shows Recovery Act Is Working. Below is a graph prepared by the Speaker's office showing net private sector job gains or losses per month since December 2007.

[Bureau of Labor Statistics via The Gavel, 10/8/10]

The Recovery Act Included Roughly $288 Billion In Tax Relief

PolitiFact: "Nearly A Third" Of Recovery Act Is "Tax Breaks To Individuals And Businesses." According to PolitiFact.com: "Nearly a third of the cost of the stimulus, $288 billion, comes via tax breaks to individuals and businesses. The tax cuts include a refundable credit of up to $400 per individual and $800 for married couples; a temporary increase of the earned income tax credit for disadvantaged families; and an extension of a program that allows businesses to recover the costs of capital expenditures faster than usual. The tax cuts aren't so much spending as money the government won't get -- so it can stay in the economy. Of that $288 billion, the stimulus has resulted in $119 billion worth of tax breaks so far." [PolitiFact.com, 2/17/10]

Wall Street "Bailout" Helped Stabilize Economy

In The Midst Of A Downward Spiral, TARP Helped Stabilize The Financial System. As reported by Reuters: "The U.S. government's $700 billion financial rescue program has helped to stabilize the system, but may be creating systemic problems by fueling a belief banks will always be bailed out, a watchdog for the program said on Wednesday. 'Compared to where we were last October there is no question that the system if far more stable. We were on the precipice and I think the (Troubled Asset Relief Program) contributed with the other programs to pull us back,' Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the program, told CNBC." [Reuters, 10/21/09]

Princeton, Moody's Economists Say "Highly Effective" Government Response To Crisis Saved 8.5 Million Jobs. According to the New York Times: "Like a mantra, officials from both the Bush and Obama administrations have trumpeted how the government's sweeping interventions to prop up the economy since 2008 helped avert a second Depression. Now, two leading economists wielding complex quantitative models say that assertion can be empirically proved. In a new paper, the economists argue that without the Wall Street bailout, the bank stress tests, the emergency lending and asset purchases by the Federal Reserve, and the Obama administration's fiscal stimulus program, the nation's gross domestic product would be about 6.5 percent lower this year. In addition, there would be about 8.5 million fewer jobs, on top of the more than 8 million already lost; and the economy would be experiencing deflation, instead of low inflation. The paper, by Alan S. Blinder, a Princeton professor and former vice chairman of the Fed, and Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, represents a first stab at comprehensively estimating the effects of the economic policy responses of the last few years. 'While the effectiveness of any individual element certainly can be debated, there is little doubt that in total, the policy response was highly effective,' they write." [New York Times7/27/10, emphasis added]

Ignatius: Bailouts "Almost Surely Saved The Country From Another Great Depression." According to the Washington Post's David Ignatius: "Constant repetition of anti-government rhetoric in our political echo chamber has dulled Americans into overlooking an important and perhaps surprising fact: We have just lived through one of the more notable successes of government intervention in modern times -- the auto and bank rescues that almost surely saved the country from another Great Depression. [...] A similar success story seems likely with most of the rest of the money spent for TARP, the acronym that is a dirty word this political season. The Troubled Assets Relief Program, coupled with emergency facilities at the Fed, allowed a "work-out" for a financial system that was on the verge of freezing up. Most of the TARP investments, it seems, will be recovered, too, including loans made to the notorious insurance behemoth AIG." [Washington Post, 10/14/10, emphasis added]

Taxpayers Could Actually Earn A Profit On TARP

NYT: Government Bailouts To Banks, Auto Companies, "Could Conceivably Earn Taxpayers A Profit." According to the New York Times:

Even as voters rage and candidates put up ads against government bailouts, the reviled mother of them all - the $700 billion lifeline to banks, insurance and auto companies - will expire after Sunday at a fraction of that cost, and could conceivably earn taxpayers a profit.

A final accounting of the government's full range of interventions in the economy, including the bailouts of the mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is years off and will most likely remain controversial and potentially costly.

But the once-unthinkable possibility that the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program could end up costing far less, or even nothing, became more likely on Thursday with the news that the government had negotiated a plan with the American International Group to begin repaying taxpayers.

[New York Times, 9/30/10, emphasis added]

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