A few days ago, Matthew Yglesias floated the possibility that Republicans are trying to sabotage economic growth for political gain:
So I know that tangible improvements in the economy are key to Obama’s re-election chances. And Douglas Hibbs knows that it’s key. And senior administration officials know that its key. So is it so unreasonable to think that Mitch McConnell and John Boehner may also know that it’s key? That rank and file Republicans know that it’s key? McConnell has clarified that his key goal in the Senate is to cause Barack Obama to lose in 2012 which if McConnell understands the situation correctly means doing everything in his power to reduce economic growth. Boehner has distanced himself from this theory, but many members of his caucus may agree with McConnell.
On that note, Neil Irwin reports that two influential Republicans have come out against the Federal Reserve's dual mandate:
The proposal by Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.) and Rep. Mike Pence (Ind.) would end the three-decade-old "dual mandate" of the Fed, its legal charge from Congress to simultaneously aim for maximum employment and price stability.
They argued that the law creates muddled policy, as Fed officials have to juggle two different goals. They said that the Fed is better suited to fighting inflation and that other parts of the government and the private sector should handle job creation.
Of course, both Corker and Pence are opposed to any government efforts to spur job creation. In addition to voting against the stimulus package, they both opposed efforts to extend unemployment benefits, and voted against a bill to provide $26 billion in aid to state and local governments. It's worth noting that this proposal is in response to the Fed's recent decision to buy $600 billion in government bonds in an effort to boost growth by increasing the supply of money. With this push, Corker and Pence join a host of Republicans who have come out against this new round of quantitative easing, via an open letter to Ben Bernanke.
So, if the GOP is opposed to government and Federal Reserve attempts to boost the economy, what exactly are they for? The private-sector activity that isn't actually happening? Aside from cutting taxes for the rich, Republicans don't have an answer, which really does suggest that this has more to do with harming Barack Obama's re-election chances than it does with finding the right way to "fix" the economy. As it stands, Republicans seem completely willing to condemn the country to two more years of poor economic growth if it means beating Obama in 2012.
-- Jamelle Bouie
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