Economy

Former Sen. Blanche Lincoln Shills For Conservative Lobbyists Using Repeatedly Debunked Right-Wing Numbers

Earlier this year, former Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), who left Congress ostensibly to engage in nobler pursuits and avoid the rancid bipartisanship of Washington, promptly became a lobbyist, signed on as a Fox News commentator, and joined an anti-regulatory road show sponsored by the right-wing U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Alongside former George W. Bush chief of staff Andy Card, Bayh promulgated debunked right-wing nonsense about the cost that regulation has on economic growth and job creation.

Not to be outdone, Bayh’s former colleague, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) — who was defeated by Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) — has joined the notoriously right-wing National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), and is engaging in a similar dissemination of misleading conservative economics:

The nation’s leading small-business organization, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), today launched a new campaign targeting the increasing number of regulations handed down by the Obama administration that are hampering small business’ ability to create jobs and economic growth. The multi-year effort aims to give voice to America’s small businesses, which create two-thirds of the net new jobs in the U.S. each year. Former U.S. Senator and Small Businesses for Sensible Regulations chairwoman Blanche Lincoln joined NFIB President and CEO Dan Danner to announce the coalition in Washington.

As the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein and Zach Carter reported, while the NFIB purports to speak for small business, it “is run mostly by and for Republicans“:

Of the 11 lobbyists currently employed by the NFIB, nine are former staffers for Republican lawmakers (one is a former Democratic staffer and another is an academic with ties to JPMorgan Chase and the New York Federal Reserve). The organization endorsed 319 politicians in the 2010 elections, 310 of them Republicans. And 93 percent of the $745,051 that the NFIB deployed in campaign contributions went to GOP candidates. The group’s independent arm spent an additional $1 million, all of it on behalf of Republicans.

In a statement, Lincoln attacked government regulations that she claims “are causing uncertainty and ultimately harming small businesses and their ability to create jobs,” citing “a report conducted for the Small Business Administration’s office of advocacy last year, government regulations currently cost the U.S. economy $1.75 trillion a year, or more than 12 percent of our national GDP.”

But as Wake Forest Professor Sidney Shapiro wrote, that study is complete bunk. “That study is popular with anti-regulation advocates, but never stood up to scrutiny,” he wrote, noting that it contains “serious methodological problems.” The Congressional Research Service came to the same conclusion.

John Irons of the Economic Policy Institute found that the study Lincoln is citing “contains basic conceptual mistakes and relies on extraordinarily poor data.” “Its results should neither be used as a valid measure of the economic costs of regulation nor as a guide for policy,” he said. However, Lincoln evidently feels fine helping right-wing organizations lie about the effect regulation is having on the economy.