Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein joined The Last Word choir. His new op-ed, “The magical world of voodoo ‘economists,’” touches on the “kooky” ideas of GOP candidates to dismantle the federal government. Turning their backs on progress made in the 20th century, the current batch of Republicans want to take away the EPA, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the Clean Air Act, The Clean Water Act, among other programs. His article hones in on their take on economic policies, which vary drastically from bi-partisan experts:
Not every candidate embraces every one of these kooky ideas. But what’s striking is that when Rick Perry stands up and declares that “Keynesian policy and Keynesian theory is now done,” not one candidate is willing to speak up for the most important economic thinker of the 20th century. Or when Michele Bachmann declares that natural selection is just a theory, none of the other candidates is willing to risk the wrath of the religious right and call her on it. Leadership, it ain’t.
I realize economics isn’t a science the way biology and physics are sciences, but it’s close enough to one that there are ideas, principles and insights from experience that economists generally agree upon. Listening to the Republicans talk about the economy and economic policy, however, is like entering into an alternative reality.
Theirs is a magical world in which the gulf oil spill and the Japanese nuclear disaster never happened and there was never a problem with smog, polluted rivers or contaminated hamburger. It is a world where Enron and Worldcom did not collapse and shoddy underwriting by bankers did not bring the financial system to the brink of a meltdown. It is a world where the unemployed can always find a job if they really want one and businesses never, ever ship jobs overseas.
As politicians who are always quick to point out that it is only the private sector that creates economic growth, I found it rather comical to watch the governors at last week’s debate duke it out over who “created” the most jobs while in office. I know it must have just been an oversight, but I couldn’t help noticing that neither Mitt Romney nor Perry thought to exclude the thousands of government jobs included in their calculations — the kinds of jobs they and their fellow Republicans now view as economically illegitimate.
It’s a great read. He adds at the end, “even Richard Nixon came around to declaring himself a Keynesian. Maybe there is still hope for Perry and the gang.”
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