So QE3 has landed:
The Federal Reserve on Thursday opened a major new offensive in the battle to reduce unemployment, launching its most extensive effort to stimulate the economy in years.
The Fed announced a new round of bond purchases targeting the mortgage market, saying it would purchase $85 billion in bonds per month through the rest of the year, and then $40 billion per month until the economy doesn’t need the support anymore.
This puts Republicans in an interesting spot. How do they criticize this move? Here’s Drudge’s headline, implying that the Fed is conspiring to help Obama win reelection:
ELECTION MANIPULATION: NEW PUMPING BEGINS!!
And earlier today, Congressional Republicans were already anticipating this move and criticizing it in advance as an effort to help Obama. One GOP lawmaker claimed: “It is going to sow some growth in the economy, and the Obama administration is going to claim credit.” Another GOP lawmaker put the Fed on notice: “they should consider, just how independent are they when they come out, only 50 days before the election, with this.”
The trouble with this critique, of course, is that it constitutes an ackonwledgment that this move will help the economy. After all, if this going to help Obama politically, that would presumably be because it is going to spur growth. Indeed, one of the Republicans quoted above admitted that. Yet they are criticizing the move, anyway.
As Steve Benen put it, “some of these Republican lawmakers aren’t even bothering to keep up appearances.”
In fairness, Mitt Romney can sidestep this little problem. He is already on record claiming he doesn’t believe Fed action will help the economy. “I don’t think that easing monetary policy is going to make a significant difference in the job market right now,” he said last weekend. So my bet is Romney and other Republicans will try to argue that any call for fed action is an implicit indictment of Obama’s policies — i.e., the need for action itself means those policies failed — while simultaneously arguing that the fed action won’t work, either.
Of course, this could invite more questions about what Romney would do to address the immediate crisis, beyond the oft-repeated bullet points that even Republicans have critcized for lacking in specificity.