Earlier this week, two leading economists released a study that “empirically proved” that the government’s response to the Great Recession, including the stimulus bill, prevented the loss of “some 8½ million jobs.” The study’s authors — former McCain economic adviser Mark Zandi and former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Blinder — concluded that “there is little doubt that in total, the policy response was highly effective.”
What do those congressmen who opposed the stimulus bill think about the study’s findings? We caught up with Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) yesterday to get his thoughts:
Wolf: I don’t believe that that study is accurate, but it’s hard for me to comment on it until I can see it. But, I think the highest number I ever heard the administration say was 3 million. And of course you remember Bill Buckley said he would rather be governed by the first 500 people in the Boston telephone book than 500 economists from Harvard. So, I don’t know who they are or what they are but I would think those numbers — 8 million — would be highly inflated.
Wolf went on to say he would “favor repealing the money that’s there now and either put it into actual jobs or applying it to the deficit.” When we pressed him on the issue, Wolf hedged:
TP: Do you think companies that have received money already should have to give it back?
Wolf: I don’t know. I’d have to see.
Wolf hosted a job fair yesterday in Leesburg, VA. Many of the employers at the fair were recipients of stimulus funding, including the Orbital Sciences Corporation (one contract for $16 million) and the Fairfax County Public Schools (12 contracts totaling over $95 million). In all, groups at Wolf’s job fair have received over $420 million in stimulus funding.
Given how much stimulus money employers at Wolf’s event have received, we asked the congressmen whether this funding has helped them be able to hire new workers. He struggled to reconcile his opposition to the stimulus bill (and his skepticism of a study proving its effectiveness) with the fact that 65 employers were looking to hire at his job fair:
TP: You had the jobs fair this morning and we went back and took a look and some of the companies there had received a lot of stimulus funding, upwards of about $400 million. Do you feel like it helped them create jobs?
Wolf: I don’t know. You’d have to talk to them.
Watch the interview:
Wolf’s incoherent response about stimulus funding comes as little surprise, given his history as a stimulus hypocrite.
Progressive Media intern Ariel Powell contributed research assistance for this report.