Tuesday, February 10, 2009

How Can Glenn Grothman Provide the Correct Answers When He Isn't Even Asking the Right Questions?

State Senator Glenn Grothman has a mind-blowing display of complete ignorance of current events over at the Right Side of Wisconsin this morning. Please, if you've ever seen his name on a ballot you were filling out, go read it and keep it in mind the next time you enter a voting both.

In the essay, Grothman asks his readers two questions and helps his audience divine the answers using the rhetoric of talk radio. Here's the first question Grothman unloads:
Is the secret to a strong economy to have the government spend money?
That's not the right question to be asking right now. In fact, that's a question no one is asking right now. The actual question is something more like this:
Does government spending stabilize a faltering economy when the private sector is unwilling or unable to keep money circulating?
The difference is not semantic and is essential to understanding just how much trouble individuals, businesses and financial institutions are in these days. Here's Grothman's answer top his own rhetorical question:
Last spring, Congress either borrowed or printed $170 billion and sent out checks as part of President Bush’s stimulus plan. At the time, February 13, 2008, the Dow closed at 12,552.24 and unemployment was at 4.8 percent. In the beginning of October, President Bush announced a $700 million bailout plan — also presumably paid for with borrowed or newly printed dollars. The day the plan was signed, October 3rd, 2008, the Dow closed at 10,325.38, and unemployment was at 6.6 percent. Today the Dow is under 8,000 and unemployment is at 7.2 percent.
I'm confident that Grothman is the only "economist" who is blaming the Stock Market meltdown that began last fall on government stimulus spending. Astonishingly he doesn't even mention subprime loans, dodgy derivatives trading, convoluted balance sheets, the housing market bubble or any of the other actual reasons that banks and other financial institutions froze up, went under or begged Washington to bail them out.

As if this comic cocktail of arrogance and ignorance of the current economic crises wasn't enough, Grothman continues to drink from this asinine argument by asking a second question:
Is our current economic crisis caused by a failure of the federal government to create jobs or by lack spending so far?
The answer, according to Grothman, is damn right it has! Grothman goes on, at length, for the next three paragraphs describing how federal government spending has increased in various areas during the Bush administration. Apparently Grothman thinks that increases in areas like education, health care, and transportation between the fiscal years 2001-2009 qualify as a "stimulus" program and are in no way related to an increase in demand for services, inflation, and, in the case of Medicare, the introduction of a massive entitlement program in the form of Medicare Part D several years ago.

Remember, all of this Grothman is describing occurred during a Republican administration, something he glosses over by dismissing Bush as an ideological anomaly:
When asked to explain the difference between the Democrat and Republican parties, I try to explain that Democrats are usually for larger government and the Republicans for less. Bush sure muddies the waters. He probably should have run as a Democrat.
The only problem with this little piece of historic revisionism is that Bush had a Republican Congress that was perfectly willing to march in lockstep with him. So not only has the current financial mess been all government's fault, but it's the government that was run by the party of which Grothman is a member!

The breathless obliviousness of this piece is staggering -- it's not Wall Street's fault, don't look at the Republicans. It's all because we've spent too much money!

Grothman is clearly not interested in looking for solutions to the current dilemma -- he's looking to score a few cheap political points. That's what a hack does -- and while Grothman has hardly distinguished himself as a statesman, it would be nice of him to at least give the appearance that he is looking for answers to questions that actually have relevance.

I do have to give Grothman some credit: His essay makes voodoo economics look like modern medicine. This petulant theory is more like "conspiracy theory economics" -- the product of a blind paranoia that can only come from a deep-seated prejudice and a willful dismissal of any facts to the contrary. On the other hand, this absurdity is a more creative departure from the now absent blame of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as the government entities that "single handedly" crashed the market (now absent because it never caught on ... because it just wasn't true).

It's interesting that this essay showed up on the web site of one of the state GOP's vice-chairmen. It's not written in blog form and carries the pretense of an op-ed piece. My guess is that Grothman shopped it around to a few papers and editors said to themselves "There's no way we can justify wasting column space on this incoherent nonsense." It's a wonderful demonstration of a how a basic grasp of policy is not a prerequisite to a career in politics.

MORE: Grothman's timing couldn't be more asinine.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Actually, there is no evidence that government spending stabilizes the economy.