This morning on Fox News Sunday, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), who has waffled on the impact of the stimulus, argued against the need for more stimulus funding. He claimed that he doesn’t need to listen to economists when putting together his policy agenda:
WALLACE: Congressman — a number of top economists say what we need is more economic stimulus.
BOEHNER: Well, I don’t need to see GDP numbers or to listen to economists. All I need to do is listen to the American people, because they’ve been asking the question now for 18 months, “where are the jobs?”
Later, the interview grew a bit more hostile as Wallace tried to press Boehner on the deficit-impact of his call for extending the Bush tax cuts. “Chris, you’ve been in Washington too long because that’s all a bunch of Washington talk,” Boehner said dismissively. “I’m just asking a question, sir,” Wallace persisted, noting the exorbitant cost of extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. “This is the whole Washington mindset, all these CBO numbers,” Boehner responded. Watch it:
Boehner — whose blind political ideology often leads him to oppose anything that Democrats and Obama might be supportive of — is not interested in hearing the facts. The GDP numbers that Boehner doesn’t want to see showed a relatively weak 2.4 percent growth rate in the 2nd quarter, which indicates that the economy is losing momentum:
The consensus from leading experts is that the original stimulus was too small for the magnitude of the crisis. Forty notable economists and historians, including Joseph Stiglitz, Alan Blinder, and Mark Zandi, recently signed their names to statements calling for more government stimulus. “The urgent need is for government to replace the lost purchasing power of the unemployed and their families and to employ other tax-cut and spending programs to boost demand,” they wrote.
Fed Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke — who Boehner has praised in the past — has said that deficit spending is critical in the short-term and that pulling support from the stimulus isn’t the right solution. “At the current moment…the large deficits, as unattractive as they are, are important for supporting economic activity, and they were important also in restoring financial stability,” he said. “And so I think they were justified in that respect, and I would be reluctant to withdraw that support too precipitously in the near term.”
CBO Director Doug Elmendorf — yet another expert that Boehner has praised in the past — has explained that there is “no intrinsic contradiction” between supporting more stimulus now and demanding deficit reduction later. Yale economics professor Robert Schiller writes in today’s New York Times, “We need more stimulus, not less — but we need to focus much more on actually putting people to work. … [U]nless we take new measures, we face the prospect of protracted unemployment.”