Why You Shouldn't Trust Speaker Boehner's Economists, Part II

June 01, 2011 11:01 am ET — Matt Finkelstein

Speaker John Boehner

Last night, the House overwhelmingly rejected a bill to increase the debt ceiling with no strings attached. Although Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has acknowledged that doing nothing could spark a "financial disaster," he wants Americans to believe that lifting the debt ceiling without slashing trillions from the federal budget would be even worse. Today, Boehner is touting a letter signed by "more than 150 economists" who agree that "An increase in the national debt limit that is not accompanied by significant spending cuts and budget reforms...will harm private-sector job creation in America."

As Political Correction previously documented, Boehner has been promoting a similar letter since February whose signees include right-wing ideologues, bitter partisans, and a number of individuals affiliated with institutions funded by the Koch Brothers. Not surprisingly, there is significant crossover between the two lists, with 87 individuals appearing on both. Some of them include:

Benjamin Zycher: Michelle Obama Is The Product Of "Affirmative-Action Coddling" And "An Intellectual Lightweight." In a post on National Review's blog The Corner, Zycher wrote: "Now, let me be blunt: Michelle Obama, the product of lifelong affirmative-action coddling, is an intellectual lightweight who fancies herself a serious thinker. Just read her Princeton senior thesis, an intermittently coherent stream-of-consciousness pile of leftist jargon, campus pseudo-seriousness, and racial-identity babble. Can there be any doubt that the Princeton administrators accepted it only because of her skin color?" [National Review, 8/17/09]

Thomas C. Rustici: "In November We Will Kick Your Asses Out And Save This Republic From Your Socialistic Tyranny." Speaking at a Tea Party rally, Rustici said: "I swear on my life, with God as my witness, we are going to hold them to account for this disaster. If you're a politician and disrespect the Constitution, individual liberty, and the American people; heed my words: this, I swear before God almighty right here right now, we're coming after you. In November we will kick your asses out and save this Republic from your socialist tyranny." [TomRustici.Angelfire.com, 4/10/10]

John Cogan: "It's Wrong To Allow Surpluses." According to the New York Times: "John F. Cogan, a Hoover fellow, was a top official in the Office of Management and Budget in the Reagan and first Bush administrations and probably could have been the current president's budget director if he had wanted the job. He put the case this way: 'It is wrong to allow surpluses because these surpluses invariably lead to higher spending. Governments simply cannot hang onto money.'" [New York Times, 2/9/03]

Furthermore, 24 of the economists who signed both letters also signed a 2003 letter endorsing the Bush tax cuts as a "fiscally responsible" path to "more employment, economic growth, and opportunities for all Americans." As it turns out, the Bush tax cuts were a fiscal nightmare that fueled massive deficits, a decline in average household incomes, and the slowest period of economic growth since World War II.