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Jonathan Bernstein on the GOP-Aligned Economists: "Don't Take Us Seriously"

Jonathan Bernstein:

A plain blog about politics: 150 economists calling for spending cuts to go along with the debt limit increase.... [T]he letter isn't exactly rocket science...well, anyway, it's certainly not economics. The entire statement:

An increase in the national debt limit that is not accompanied by significant spending cuts and budget reforms to address our government’s spending addiction will harm private-sector job creation in America.  It is critical that any debt limit legislation enacted by Congress include spending cuts and reforms that are greater than the accompanying increase in debt authority being granted to the president.  We will not succeed in balancing the federal budget and overcoming the challenges of our debt until we succeed in committing ourselves to government policies that allow our economy to grow.  An increase in the national debt limit that is not accompanied by significant spending cuts and budget reforms would harm private-sector job growth and represent a tremendous setback in the effort to deal with our national debt.

They're not even trying, are they?

Not only is there nothing resembling an argument for why spending cuts would create jobs, but the statement goes considerably farther than that -- they claim (twice!) that increasing the debt limit without spending cuts and budget reforms would cost jobs. That, to be blunt, is preposterous nonsense.... There is, of course, not even a remotely plausible economic argument supporting the idea that any particular policy has to be attached to the debt ceiling instead of the normal budget process in order to work. None. Nada. Zip. It's a political claim, not an economic one. And as a political claim it seems, well, ridiculous....

Look, I realize these things are just talking points, just part of the spin war... I don't know why this one set me off.

I guess I'd like to see something resembling a serious debate about these issues. I suppose I'd also like to see economists take themselves seriously, instead of being willing props for whatever the messagemeisters of the Republican Party think they need. This? It's just garbage.

People who signed this who certainly know better, and have burned what remained of their credibility:

Michael Boskin, Marvin Goodfriend, Dougls Holtz-Eakin, June O'Neill, Larry Lindsey, Allan Meltzer, James Miller, George Shultz, John Taylor.

Republican economists of note and reputation who did not sign this:

Murray L. Weidenbaum, William A. Niskanen, Jerry L. Jordan, Martin Feldstein, William Poole, Thomas Gale Moore, Michael L. Mussa, Richard L. Schmalensee, Paul Wonnacott, R. Glenn Hubbard, Mark B. McClellan, Randall S. Kroszner, N. Gregory Mankiw, Kristin J. Forbes, Harvey S. Rosen, Ben S. Bernanke, Katherine Baicker, Matthew J. Slaughter, Edward P. Lazear, Donald B. Marron, Phil Swagel, Andrew Samwick.

That's only 9 out of 31 who would sign. That's not a very good percentage.

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