Can Republicans Take Credit for Good Economic News?

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 24 2011 9:57 AM

Can Republicans Take Credit for Good Economic News?

Ben Smith beat me to posting this remarkable brag from Eric Cantor's press shop, e-mailed to reporters this morning.

THERE ARE THE JOBS:  Republicans Prevent Massive Tax Increase, Economy Begins to Improve:   U.S. companies plan to hire more workers in the coming months amid growing optimism over the economy, a quarterly survey released Monday showed, providing further evidence that the jobs market is turning around. In the fourth-quarter poll of 84 companies by the National Association for Business Economics found 42% of companies interviewed, ranging from manufacturing to finance, expect to boost jobs in the six months ahead. That's up from 29% in the first three months of 2010. Only 7% in the latest survey predict they will shed jobs in the coming six months, down from 23% at the start of last year. Dow Jones

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I'm actually interested in this question of when parties, governors, presidents, etc. can take credit for economic developments. After I got this e-mail I started contacting economists to see whether Republicans had, indeed, improved our economic outlook by getting the president to the table on a tax cut deal and making it clear that 2011 will be a year of cuts. Economist Bruce Bartlett responds:

As usual, they are full of shit. The "tax cut" enacted in December was not a tax cut at all, merely the extension of tax cuts enacted in the early 2000s that were in effect all during the time the economy was shedding jobs by the millions. And even if there were some miracle properties in just extending tax cuts already in effect, it is grossly implausible to claim that this would have any impact on jobs so quickly.

The fact is that the recession ended in June 2009 according to the NBER, which means that we have been in a recovery for one and a half years. For Republicans to suddenly notice this fact just because one of their pet proposals got enacted is just political grandstanding at its worst.

Will post more as I get it.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.