Even House GOP Leaders Don't Take House GOP Budget Projections Seriously

April 06, 2011 4:50 pm ET — Jamison Foser

Rep. Paul Ryan

By now, you probably know that economists think the unemployment projections in Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget are laughably optimistic. Or, as MIT's Jonathan Gruber put it, "insane." What you may not have noticed is that many of Ryan's Republican colleagues apparently agree.

Remember, Ryan's budget document touted a Heritage Foundation projection that it would reduce unemployment to 4 percent in 2015. Heritage also claimed unemployment would drop to 2.8 percent by 2021. The unemployment rate is currently 8.8 percent, has been above 8 percent for more than two years, has fallen as low as 4 percent for a total of only 12 months in the last 40 years, and hasn't hit 2.8 percent since 1953. So reducing unemployment to 4 percent in just four years would be a pretty big deal. A really big deal. The kind of thing politicians would ordinarily be quick to tout.

But look around: Do you see any Republicans boasting that their budget proposal would reduce unemployment to 4 percent in four years? Or touting Heritage's projection that unemployment would be at a virtually nonexistent 2.8 percent by the end of the decade?

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), the chairman of the House Republican Conference, put out a nine-paragraph statement touting the Ryan plan — a statement that doesn't so much as mention the unemployment projections. Or really anything at all about creating jobs, unless you count "In order to create jobs today ... we have to stop spending money that we don't have." House Republican Policy Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-GA) didn't mention the projections in his four-paragraph statement. Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) issued a two-paragraph statement praising the GOP budget proposal, but he didn't mention the miraculous job creation Heritage claims it will produce. Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) did release a statement yesterday that mentioned the Heritage projections in passing. But he didn't say anything about the unemployment projections in a Q & A on the budget proposal or a pen & pad briefing with Hensarling. And Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has issued two press releases about the budget, neither of which mentions the unemployment projections. 

Reducing the unemployment rate to 4 percent in four years isn't some obscure detail: It would be an astounding, historic success on an issue of central importance to the nation and significance to voters. If Republicans believed the Heritage projections were even remotely plausible, don't you think they'd be shouting the numbers from rooftops? And yet the GOP leadership is doing their best to pretend the projections don't exist. The only rational conclusion is that leading House Republicans don't buy the analysis that their own budget proposal relies upon.