Recently, newly-minted RNC Chair Michael Steele sat down with George Stephanopoulos and tried to argue against the economic stimulus package. How did it go? Well, see for yourself:
STEELE: You’ve got to look at what’s going to create sustainable jobs. What this administration is talking about is making work. It is creating work.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But that’s a job.
STEELE: No, it’s not a job. A job is something that — that a business owner creates. It’s going to be long term. What he’s creating…
STEPHANOPOULOS: So a job doesn’t count if it’s a government job?
STEELE: Hold on. No, let me — let me — let me finish. That is a contract. It ends at a certain point, George. You know that. These road projects that we’re talking about have an end point.
As a small-business owner, I’m looking to grow my business, expand my business. I want to reach further. I want to be international. I want to be national. It’s a whole different perspective on how you create a job versus how you create work. And I’m — either way, the bottom line is…
STEPHANOPOULOS: I guess I don’t really understand that distinction.
STEELE: Well, the difference — the distinction is this. If a government — if you’ve got a government contract that is a fixed period of time, it goes away. The work may go away. That’s — there’s no guarantee that that — that there’s going to be more work when you’re done in that job.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, but we’ve seen millions and millions of jobs going away in the private sector just in the last year.
STEELE: But they come — yes, they — and they come back, though, George. That’s the point. When they go — they’ve gone away before, and they come back.
First, Steele draws a distinction between “work” and “jobs,” as if there are millions of people who are being paid to do nothing, in anticipation that there will be work for them to do in the future. It’s pretty simple—more work means more jobs.
For instance, if a construction company has 50 employees but receives contract for a job that will require 100 employees, they will hire 50 more people; thus more work creates more jobs, and that’s the type of scenario this stimulus package is designed to create nationwide.
Second, Steele acts like the jobs created by the stimulus package don’t count because they’re not indefinite. By that standard, though, whose job does count? Tens of millions—if not hundreds of millions—of workers across the country could be fired or laid off at any time. Do those jobs not count, either, just because they’re indefinite?
Plus, the jobs created by the stimulus are designed to be temporary—we can’t have millions of people earning government salaries for the rest of their lives, after all. The point of the stimulus is to spur economic growth so that, when those temporary jobs end, there will be other newly-created jobs those workers can move into. The point of the economic stimulus package is, after all, to stimulate the economy, yet Steele pretends a nearly-$1 trillion investment in the economy won’t have any effect on economic growth.
Third, Steele claims that we shouldn’t even worry about losing jobs because “they come back.” Well, the reason why the job we lose “come back” at the end of a recession is because, when we enter a recession and start bleeding jobs, the government steps in and does something about it. In fact, we have a host of monetary and economic policies we can implement in order to create jobs again, one of those being economic stimulus packages like this one. Again, Steele is assuming that the economy exists in a vacuum and that the federal government doesn’t affect it, which is patently absurd.
In light of this, maybe Steele shouldn‘t have scrapped the RNC’s plans to develop a policy think tank–it’s going to be a long couple of years for him if this gibberish is the best he can come up with.