By far the most important moment of the 15th district debate at the State Theatre came when Charlie Dent declined to explain why anyone should trust Republicans to create jobs.
Joe Owens pointed out that economists agree the recession began in December of 2007, during the Bush administration. Indeed jobs losses peaked during the Bush administration, before any policy Obama signed took effect. Why should anyone believe that Republicans know how to create jobs.
Dent didn’t have an answer. All he did was attack Democrats, but he had no apologies for his own record.
He claimed we have to have “faith” in private sector to create jobs.
Translation: We should sit on our hands and pray for jobs. The public sector shouldn’t use any of the many remaining tools in its toolbox to boost demand. I’m a Republican and I have a pithy political objection to government intervention in the economy, even when 10% of my distict is out of work.
Dent claimed John Callahan and the Democrats support a “statist approach.” He claimed that if the government gets more involved and spends more money it will not create jobs.
Translation: The policies that worked to get us out of the Great Depression won’t work now for some unspecified reason.
Dent claimed trillions of dollars are on the sidelines because of fear of future taxes and regulation.
It’s important to note that Dent himself doesn’t even believe the nonsense he says about stimulus spending not working. One of his own jobs proposals, here on the Morning Call voter guide, is to fast track military replacement purchases. That is an outright admission that we can boost employment by pulling government spending forward into the present, and pushing taxes back into the future. The same concept that works for body armor and weapons systems purchases also works for repairing roads and bridges, building trains, a new electrical grid, solar panels for public buildings, aid to state and local governments, etc.
Charlie Dent acknowledges that countercyclical spending boosts demand and lowers unemployment, and the only reason he isn’t voting for it is because he’s a Republican.
As I have been at pains to point out all year (read here and here), at a fundamental level the story that Charlie Dent is telling voters about the jobs crisis is flat out incorrect. The claims he is making about why businesses are not hiring are not borne out by any facts from the real world. It is huckster economics.
Dent did not answer Joe Owens’ challenge to Republicans’ credibility on jobs, so I will:
Republicans still think that George W. Bush had the right approach on jobs from 2001 to 2007. They still don’t understand why the economy tanked on his watch. The explanations have ranged from unpersuasive attempts to rebrand Bush as a liberal, to blaming his spending on less-right-wing policies like Medicare Part D or No Child Left Behind, to unpersuasively blaming poor people for the housing bubble. Other than that, Republicans tell us, Bush’s economic policies worked great, and we should just pick up where he left off.
Except Republican economic policy from 2001-2007 didn’t work great for anybody but the richest 0.01% of Americans.
Under Bush and a Republican Congress, we had the weakest jobs and income growth in the post-war period:
Overall monthly job growth was the worst of any cycle since at least February 1945, and household income growth was negative for the first cycle since tracking began in 1967. Women reversed employment gains of previous cycles. And for African Americans, the worst job growth on record was matched by an unprecedented increase in poverty.
Those are the results of the agenda that Charlie Dent is running on. And then throw in some painful spending cuts that will increase unemployment.
If that sounds like the kind of jobs record you would like to go back to, vote for Charlie Dent.