“I believe that if anybody’s going to get a pat on the back for [lower] unemployment and the better economy, it’s House Republicans, and not the president and not the Senate,” said freshman Representative Jeff Landry (R-LA) during a panel of House conservatives at the Heritage Foundation last week.
Landry is not alone either. The Hill spoke with several Republicans who agree that they are the reason the economy has improved:
— “Under Republican control of the House, [the unemployment rate] has begun a gradual but steady decline, and now it’s still disappointing, but it’s at 8.3 percent, which is much better than under the Democrats,” [Idaho Republican Rep. Raul] Labrador said.
— “In many ways our greatest success is the things we’ve stopped,” said freshman Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.).
— “If you make the assumption the economy is improving, I would say yes, we have had an effect,” [South Carolina Republican Rep. Jeff] Duncan said.
Rep. Landry may want to look at the facts before he rushes to take credit for the positive economic forecasts. Thanks to Republicans in the house, who have demanded deep cuts to federal programs in the name of deficit reduction, strong job growth in the private sector have been partially offset by steady job losses in the public sector.
According to a recent report, after Republicans brought the federal government to the brink of a complete shutdown last year by demanding draconian cuts to federal programs, a last-minute continuing resolution that introduced some of the Republicans’ cuts led to the loss of an estimated 370,000 jobs.
Republicans also sought to block the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, which helped save or create millions of jobs. Not a single Republican in the House voted for the bill. Economists have noted that if Republicans in Congress had succeeded in blocking the stimulus, the unemployment rate would have hit 10.8 percent and a further 1.2 million jobs would have been lost.
Despite Landry’s embrace of revisionist history, party leadership has been reluctant to back down from their attacks on President Obama. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) have continued to criticize the president for failing to do more to help improve the economy, noting at every opportunity that despite the declining unemployment rate it is still above eight percent, an important, if largely symbolic, benchmark.