Rove's Economic Distortions

July 16, 2009 11:17 am ET

On July 16, 2009, Karl Rove wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal titled "The President Moves the Economic Goalposts." It's an ironic accusation coming from Rove, given the both the Bush administration's economic record and its propensity for shifting expectations (remember "Mission Accomplished"?). In the column, Rove mischaracterizes what President Obama said before the stimulus bill passed, as well as what the Republicans offered as an "alternative."

Rove Falsely Claimed President Obama Never Said Things Would Get Worse

Rove: "Mr. Obama never said if his stimulus were passed things might still get significantly worse in the following year." [Wall Street Journal, 7/16/09]

President Obama In December: "This Is A Big Problem, And It's Going To Get Worse." Before taking office, President-elect Obama told the country, "When you think about the structural problems that we already had in the economy before the financial crisis, this is a big problem, and it's going to get worse... Things are going to get worse before they get better." [ABC News, 12/7/08; emphasis added]

President Obama In March: "There Are No Quick Fixes."  At a news conference on March 24, 2009, President Obama said: "It's important to remember that this crisis didn't happen overnight, and it didn't result from any one action or decision. It took many years and many failures to lead us here, and it will take many months and many different solutions to lead us out.  There are no quick fixes, and there are no silver bullets." [Presidential News Conference, 3/24/09]

Rove Falsely Stated GOP's "Stimulus" Would Have Created 50% More Jobs For Half The Cost

Rove: "House Republicans offered an alternative recovery package of immediate tax cuts and safety-net measures that cost half as much as Mr. Obama's stimulus program. Republicans have also calculated that their plans would have created 50% more jobs than the stimulus." [Wall Street Journal, 7/16/09]

As Media Matters Action Network previously noted, the GOP arrived at its jobs estimate by misusing a formula in an academic paper that they later admitted they weren't able to understand in the first place.

GOP Admitted Jobs Figure Was "Speculative" And "Dictated By Assumptions." In a document released to explain the mathematical reasoning behind the "6.2 million jobs" claim, Republicans on the House Ways & Means Committee wrote: "Efforts to quantify the extent to which even large spending increases or tax cuts will impact future economic growth and employment are largely speculative, and the conclusions are generally dictated by the assumptions made by the authors." [House Ways and Means Republican Staff via TPM, 1/28/09; emphasis added]

GOP Said Source Document Used "Lacks Critical Details Necessary To Fully Understand." In a document released to explain the mathematical reasoning behind the "6.2 million jobs" claim, Republicans on the House Ways & Means Committee wrote, "they use a multiplier that suggests tax cuts equal to 1% of Gross Domestic Product (or 'GDP' which is a measure of national output) have a less than 1% effect on output, while spending increases of the same size have a greater that 1% effect.  The Romer-Bernstein paper lacks critical details necessary to fully understand their reasoning..." [House Ways and Means Republican Staff via TPM, 1/28/09; emphasis added]

Half the cost? In reality, the GOP's plan would have resulted in nearly the same deficit. 

Despite Extreme Cuts In Spending, The GOP's Plan Would Have Resulted Deficits "Not Much Lower Than Democratic Plans." The New York Times reported: "Even with the spending reductions and other changes proposed by the Republicans, their plan would still leave annual deficits of about $500 billion, not much lower than the Democratic plans." [New York Times, 4/02/09]

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