Sen. Kirk Smears "Discredited" Economist He Touted In 2010 Election

March 01, 2011 12:06 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

In the wake of yesterday's report from Moody's chief economist Mark Zandi, which found that the sweeping spending cuts passed by the House GOP will destroy 700,000 jobs, Republican lawmakers have rushed to dismiss Zandi because of his support for the Recovery Act. This morning, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) jumped on the anti-Zandi bandwagon, saying that he was "discredited" after being the "lead author" of the recovery package, which Kirk called a "complete failure." 

KIRK: Mark Zandi is now a fairly discredited economist who was the lead author behind the stimulus, now seen by the American people as a complete failure. He was the one that predicted that unemployment would top out at just eight percent if the stimulus was passed. It's been a historic wipeout and something that reflects on Zandi's record.

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However, Kirk's stated view that Zandi's stimulus position discredits him appears to be a recent development. During his senatorial campaign, Kirk actually touted Zandi's support for maintaining the Bush tax cuts on his website SaveUsFromTheLameDuck.com (screenshot below):

Furthermore, Zandi — a former McCain adviser — was not the "lead author" of the Recovery Act, nor was he the "the one" who predicted that the law would keep unemployment under eight percent. In fact, Zandi has accurately pointed out that "The unemployment rate was already at 8 percent by the time stimulus passed," and that the peak "would clearly have been higher" without the Recovery Act.

Contrary to Kirk's charge that the Recovery Act was a "complete failure," independent economists overwhelmingly agree that it created jobs and helped stave off a full-fledged depression. In other words, Kirk is relying on flat-out lies and hyper-partisan rhetoric to undermine somebody he held up as an expert just a few months ago.

To read our timeline of the Recovery Act's success, click HERE

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