Harry Reid, reflecting on the Senate GOP minority’s filibuster of a majority-backed American Jobs Act, offered a critique that I believe is new for him:
“Republicans think that if the economy improves, it might help President Obama,” Mr. Reid said. “So they root for the economy to fail and oppose every effort to improve it.”
I think Rick Perry’s infamous threats against Ben Bernanke really broke the seal on this. Perry said it would be treasonous for the Fed to enact new monetary stimulus to help Barack Obama. But how would monetary stimulus help Barack Obama? Well, it would help Obama if it helped the economy, but not otherwise. So it would be treasonous for Bernanke to help the economy because doing so would indirectly help Obama.
Most politicians have better message discipline than that, and most human beings have more advanced psychological mechanisms at their disposal for resolving cognitive dissonance. So I doubt that the GOP is sitting around in their caucus meetings chuckling about their “recession → Obama electoral defeat” plan. At the same time, people have a way of aligning their thinking with their interests. So the GOP has succeeded in hurting the economy with premature fiscal austerity, hurting the economy with the debt ceiling panic, hurting the economy with letters opposing monetary stimulus, and now will of course also oppose efforts at expansionary fiscal policy. And why not? Less growth really is better for them.