GOP attacks economic help

GOP attacks economic help

September 25th, 2011 in Opinion Times

It's been clear for most of this year that Republicans are determined to suppress any and all attempts by President Obama to boost the economy, never mind that unemployment and under-employment plague some 25 million Americans and further undermine an economy already vulnerable to a double-dip recession.

But their holding the economy hostage to partisan politics doesn't end there. Republicans are now after the Federal Reserve and chairman Ben Bernanke. As soon as the Fed announced its decision last Wednesday to convert $400 billion of its short-term debt to longer term bonds in order to assure that interest rates -- and mortgage and loan rates -- remain low for a longer time frame, Republicans jumped all over him.

They blatantly accused Bernanke of trying to stimulate the economy to help avert more economic pain. Imagine that.

A normal thinking person would have greeted the Fed's relatively modest effort with gratitude. Anything to boost employment, consumer spending, more hiring and possibly larger paychecks would be welcome. That's especially true given the increasingly bleak outlook in Europe and the euro-zone countries, which face a growing crisis and weakening economy due to the sovereign debt burden of Greece, Portugal and Spain and the blowback pressure on Europe's exposed major banks and the euro.

But Washington's Republicans, especially the tea party's rabid right wing, apparently would deny the solar cycle of sunrises and sunsets if it would damage Obama.

Still, their witless attack on Bernanke and the Fed is implicitly reckless. First, economists generally agree that the bond conversions might boost hiring by some 350,000 jobs over the next two years. Secondly, their attacks on Bernanke are mainly raising angst among traders in financial markets that knee-jerk partisan criticism of the Fed's policies may inhibit the Fed from responding to possible further financial crises, or to possible trouble for a major bank.

In other words, making the Fed's actions subject to political controversy is a woefully dumb political tactic that chiefly undermines the economy and the job market and puts the United States at additional risk for major crisis. That's not likely to endear wavering voters to Republicans, not should it.