The other day, your humble blogger made a fairly mundane and obvious prediction: “how long until the notion that the recovery is all due to increased confidence stemming from the GOP takeover of Congress becomes an article of faith inside the Conservative Entertainment Complex?”
Today, Mitch McConnell gave voice to exactly this idea on the Senate floor. He claimed this morning that the “glimmer of hope” and “uptick” we’re seeing in the economic data “appears to coincide” with the “expectation of a new Republican Congress.”
A lot of folks are having a chuckle over this. Brian Beutler notes that McConnell’s choice of the word “coincide” is useful, in that it reminds us that this is, indeed, a “coincidence.” Steve Benen points out that one of the main positive economic numbers we’ve seen recently — the indication of high GDP growth in the third quarter of 2014 — happened well before anyone who would win the Senate. Philip Bump has a great series of charts showing that many of these economic trends have been gathering for some time. And Digby reminds us that Republicans taking credit for good economic news under Democratic presidents has a long history.
All good fun. But the humor value of this aside, the serious point is that McConnell is actually talking about what’s to come, and previewing how Republicans will justify their coming policy agenda. Note the very next line in McConnell’s speech:
“After so many years of sluggish growth, we’re finally starting to see some economic data that can provide a glimmer of hope; the uptick appears to coincide with the biggest political change of the Obama Administration’s long tenure in Washington: the expectation of a new Republican Congress. So this is precisely the right time to advance a positive, pro-growth agenda.”
That’s what this is really about. The idea is that the increased confidence generated by the impending GOP takeover of Congress is responsible for the recovery — which is exactly why we should now go forward with implementing a Republican economic agenda.
The significance of this is that, unsurprisingly, continued good economic news — and other good news, such as the falling deficit — are not going to alter the GOP agenda or analysis of the current situation in the slightest. The analysis implied by McConnell’s speech is that the GOP takeover of Congress brings with it the expectation of tax relief for job creators, and relief from the Big Gummint regulatory overreach that is supposedly dragging down the recovery — and that these tantalizing possibilities are really the drivers of the good economic news.
Indeed, all that good news will be pressed into service to bolster the case for more high end tax cuts and another push for deeper spending cuts later this year. The corollary to this is the GOP’s imposition of “dynamic scoring” at the Congressional Budget Office. As Jonathan Chait explains, this will require the CBO, in analyzing coming GOP proposals, to be guided by the idea that tax cuts juice the economy by unshackling the job creators and therefore they pay for themselves — which is to say, to adopt the broad set of Republican economic assumptions that has animated the party for decades.
Today’s ideological shift at the CBO, and McConnell’s forward-looking suggestion that the good economic news must somehow be related to the anticipation of GOP fiscal policies, are interrelated.