Using the Crisis as an Excuse

Andrew Leonard had a post entitled The silliest Republican economic proposal yet. He may want to reconsider that call:

Republicans Propose ‘No Cost’ Stimulus, Fox News: SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And in “Your America” tonight, another economic plan is also emerging tonight. The Republicans have proposed an alternative to the president’s $787 billion stimulus package, and it costs a little bit less. Zero dollars. And it also promises to create two million new jobs without any of your money.

Joining us Congressman John Shadegg and Senator David Vitter. They’re here to explain.

All right. Now we keep hearing from the Democrats well, the Republicans, they need to — they need an alternative proposal. You have an alternative proposal.

Congressman Shadegg, we’ll start with you.

JOHN SHADEGG (R), ARIZONA CONGRESSMAN: We do have an alternative proposal. It looks at the fact that we spent billions of dollars on this stimulus package taxing the American people and burdening future generations with little to show for it. And many of us believe it will not produce Americans jobs.

With unemployment rates going up how can we produce American jobs? And the answer is we have had a non-energy policy in this country for a very long time. The reality is we are giving jobs to oil fieldworkers and natural gas fieldworkers in Russia and Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, when we should be putting those people to work here in the United States.

HANNITY: Right.

SHADEGG: Now Senator Vitter and I have drafted a bill that says let’s put Americans to work, let’s pursue the fight we had last summer of an all of the above energy strategy, let’s clear the bureaucracy out of the way, and let’s move forward with American jobs, producing American energy. …

So opening ANWR and easing restrictions on offshore drilling is (a) free (never mind the potential environmental costs, those don’t count if you’re a Republican), and (b) will create 2 million jobs by taking them from other countries (the jobs will come from commies and terrorists, foreigners in any case, so no problem there, no need to count the costs to those workers).

This is, of course, silly and simply a way to use the crisis to push a favorite Republican proposal, something they do routinely (a terrorist threat? looks like we need another tax cut…). But I’m curious why the standard Republican objection to attempted job creation through changes in taxes or spending – that the jobs will simply be taken from other industries – doesn’t apply here (if the jobs do come from other industries, it’s not “costless” as claimed). Or are there, as Democrats claim, idle resources sitting around just waiting to be put back to work? [Note: Comments point out – correctly – that talking about short-run tradeoffs for this policy is silly since most estimates don’t anticipate much job creation from relaxing these restrictions, and the jobs that would be created don’t appear for several years. That is, this does nothing to stimulate the economy to use idel resources in the short-run.]


Originally published at the Economist’s View and reproduced here with the author’s permission.

4 Responses to "Using the Crisis as an Excuse"

  1. Guest   March 12, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Might make some sense, actually, if automakers would make vehicles that ran on natural gas, which is a clean fuel and in abundant supply domestically. You could put some people to work right away retrofitting gasoline burning vehicles and service stations, extending pipeline, drilling more marginal areas. Compressed natural gas for vehicles is competitive with electric powered cars. There is a firm that makes a device for households that already have gas feeds for cooking and heating to fill up cars with compressed gas. Other countries in the world have promoted this fuel by converting urban taxi’s and other fleets by law.

    • PTLdom   March 13, 2009 at 5:47 am

      As soon as oil prices goes up, so will the natural gas prices, unless the government regulate it. Moreover, electric cars do not burn oxygen and half of the US energy demand can be produced by renewable energy sources, namely with the geothermal energy.But I agree with you, we do need an energy policy, but not the way GOP wants it.

  2. Guest   March 13, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    In the broad range of opinions posted on this site there seems to be one thing that most agree on is having a economy based on consumerism is not a good idea. A lot would agree we need to focus on wealth creation and exports rather than what we have been doing. I know there are some who think it is fine to export dollars to buy finished goods and to balance our payments by selling T bills so the dollars come back but I do not. When someone comes up with an idea that would actually help with our balance of payments and jobs it should not be called silly. What is silly is the stimulus package that was passed this year, what a terrible misallocation of resources and lack of focus.It seems Mr. Pickens is the only one with a energy plan that as some merit, I am not sure if I buy onto everything but I do understand his view that using natural gas to produce electricity is a terrible misallocation of resources. What the fallacy with Pickens’s plan is the reliance on wind mills. Without the corporate welfare there would be very few windmills. They are high dollar, high maintenance pieces of machinery compared to what is available. Plus is there any savings since you need back up power plants running to pick up the slack when the wind does not cooperate. Electric cars? We are not there yet – we need that super battery to store the energy. My state mandates a reduction of electric usage in the future, if it does not occur the electric companies get penalized. How is this going to work if everybody plugs in their car for a charge.Hopefully some people with commonsense will provide some leadership shortly because what is taking place now gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “you can’t fix stupid.”

    • PTLdom   March 14, 2009 at 5:20 am

      If you save on oil, you can afford to spend on electricity. And you can’t rely on oil whose prices, less than a year ago, were more than 300% above what it was now. As soon as the globe starts growing, it will happen again. Your cost of working will, at least, increase almost in the same amount. Not to mention the impact of those rises in oil prices in the other households’ consumption items. And how about inflation expectations and their impact on interest rates? If you don’t provide and execute a clear policy to change the energy sources and technologies thereof, people’s expectations on their living standards will be gloomy and everything will get stuck. Maybe its time for oil drillers start using their knowledge to cut drilling costs that allow the increase and exploration of more geothermal spots.