Scott Brown versus economic reality

“Failure should be admitted in Washington, and not repeated. With last month’s news that we lost another 85,000 jobs, and with unemployment stuck in the double digits, it’s time to admit that while the $787 billion stimulus had the best of intentions, it failed to create one new job.”

— Scott Brown, Boston Globe, Jan. 14

“Perhaps the best-known economic research firms are IHS Global Insight, Macroeconomic Advisers and Moody’s Economy.com. They all estimate that the bill has added 1.6 million to 1.8 million jobs so far and that its ultimate impact will be roughly 2.5 million jobs. The Congressional Budget Office, an independent agency, considers these estimates to be conservative.”

— David Leonhardt, New York Times, Feb. 16

Brownanomics

Assuming that state Sen. Scott Brown wins the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate on Dec. 8 (first he has to get by perennial candidate Jack E. Robinson), he’s going to have to show greater economic literacy than he has to date.

On Saturday, the New York Times quoted Mark Zandi — an economic adviser to Republican president candidate John McCain in 2008 — as saying that the $787 billion stimulus has created or saved 1.1 million jobs. If anything, Zandi added, the stimulus should have been bigger.

And Martin Feldstein, a top economic adviser to President Ronald Reagan — who, you may have heard, was also a Republican — told the Times that the main problem with the stimulus was that it relied too much on tax cuts and too little on federal spending. Feldstein said:

There should have been more direct federal spending that would have added to aggregate demand. Temporary tax cuts and one-time transfers to seniors were largely saved and didn’t stimulate spending.

Now here’s what Brown told the Boston Globe when asked if he would support a second stimulus (he would not): “It hasn’t created one job that I’m aware of.”

It gets worse: “It created government jobs certainly, and government is doing well.” Brown does not explain what government jobs were created, but perhaps he’s referring to government jobs that were saved — those of teachers, police officers and firefighters. Would he rather they be unemployed?