The pre-election economic debate would be amusing if it were not for the tragic consequences for unemployed Americans.
The U.S. economy is growing, but slower than hoped.
One of the external problems weighing on the economy comes from Europe. As House Speaker John Boehner pointed out last week, “The problems in Europe are serious. Their recession is affecting our economic growth today, and I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.”
That statement alone is remarkable. The primary GOP complaint about President Barack Obama is the nation’s slow post-recession economic growth, an odd criticism in light of Boehner’s acknowledgment that factors outside Obama’s control are part of the problem.
What makes Boehner’s statement sadly amusing is that House Republicans are doing their best to mimic Europe’s failed response to the recession.
Most European nations chose to battle recession with austerity measures. Even though economists proposed a short-term increase in government spending to allow the private sector to recover, European politicians instead slashed expenditures. The twofold result has been deepening recessions and — because of the resulting drops in tax revenues — increasing deficits.
The House and the Republican minority in the Senate have blocked any stimulus plans since 2009. They have imposed European austerity measures, with European results.
Austerity measures have wrecked European economies. Even while admitting that the European fiasco is slowing U.S. growth, Washington Republicans are trying to copy the European austerity measures. And for the predictably poor results, they are blaming Obama.
But for the millions of unemployed Americans, it would be funny.