House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) sent a memo to his House Republican colleagues Thursday touting supposed successes the GOP has had this year, and he doing so he urged his caucus to continue their attempts to stave off a debt crisis economists say does not exist.
Boehner’s memo argues that Republicans have been successful in putting pressure on Democrats and President Obama to address the nation’s “soaring debt.” It then goes on to outline areas where the country is still struggling, with these two statements listed first:
The president hasn’t succeeded in getting his additional tax hikes — but the economy still isn’t growing as it should be growing.
The federal bureaucracy is spending less than it otherwise would — but the national debt continues to grow, crowding out investment and eroding confidence needed to support growth.
Those statements are intertwined more than Boehner realizes, since it is his party’s focus on the debt that is holding back the economy’s ability to grow “as it should be growing.” Government spending has plateaued in recent years because Washington has undertaken deep deficit reduction efforts, and spending on domestic programs will be at lower levels this year than it was in 2007, before the Great Recession began. Government spending typically drives economic recoveries, but this time it is actively hindering the recovery because of the budget cuts that have already been enacted.
Meanwhile, Boehner and Republicans like Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) continue to ignore those facts, arguing instead that debt is “crowding out investment…needed to support growth” and putting America on a path to a debt crisis. Economists, however, say neither of those statements is true. “The argument that heavy debt loads slow economic growth doesn’t hold a lot of water,” one told Bloomberg last week, with others adding that the U.S. faced little-to-no threat of a debt crisis in the future.
What the U.S. has instead is an unemployment crisis, one that Boehner acknowledges when he states that “the economy still isn’t growing as it should be growing.” The problem is that Boehner and his Republican colleagues keep supporting policies that will ensure that America’s road to economic recovery is far longer than it should be.