There are myriad manifestations of insanity and although there are no single recognized or consistent causes, it is generally accepted that environment, genetics, and childhood abuse all are contributing factors. Most people have their own definition of insanity whether they are psychological experts or average citizens, and even brilliant minds weigh in on the subject occasionally. On Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell cited Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity and whether he knew it or not, the Kentucky Republican described the GOP’s behavior over the last ten years. McConnell was speaking about the White House plans to jump start job creation and as usual, he proffered the same lame diatribe Republicans have parroted for over two years. Ironically, his speech was titled, “We can’t afford to make the same mistake twice.” Indeed.
McConnell said that Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity is, “to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result,” and although McConnell was referring to President Obama’s job creation and stimulus spending plan, he inadvertently described the Republicans’ narrative of cut corporate taxes, eliminate regulations, and cut spending and the deficit. McConnell said government had to get out of the way of the “job creators,” and that helping unemployed Americans “means being as bold about liberating job creators as the administration’s been about shackling them.” He also said the president blamed “natural disasters, his political adversaries, and his predecessor” for the economy and lack of jobs, but that Republicans would not rubber-stamp his proposal because that is what “Democratic majorities did during the President’s first two years in office. And look where that got us.”
There are several reasons to take issue with Mitch McConnell’s statements, but first it is important to revisit Einstein’s definition of insanity. McConnell mentioned doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results as being insane. Republicans are still arguing that Obama has regulated and taxed “job creators” to the point they are not hiring new employees. During Bush’s presidency, Republican majorities began their tax cuts and deregulation agenda in 2001, and for the next eight years, barely a million jobs were created and the nation’s debt skyrocketed. Republicans deregulated the financial industry and caused a world-wide economic meltdown that still affects every country on Earth, and the wealthy’s tax cuts are adding to America’s deficit. Republicans began preaching a return to Bush-Republican economic policies as soon as President Obama took office because they claimed tax cuts and deregulation were necessary to give job creators the tools they need to help the economy. According to Einstein’s definition, McConnell and Republicans are the epitome of insanity for attempting to repeat their failed economic policies they know will not create jobs. McConnell is insane.
Speaker John Boehner, another insane Republican, said that, “Private-sector job growth continues to be undermined by the triple threat of higher taxes, more failed ‘stimulus’ spending, and excessive federal regulations. Together, these Washington policies have created a fog of uncertainty that’s left small businesses unable to hire and American families worried about the future.” Republicans may get away with their rhetoric with Fox News’ viewers and dyed-in-the-wool conservatives, but business owners are not as easily fooled.
In a McClatchy survey of small business owners, respondents said regulations and taxes are not the reason they are not hiring or expanding. Instead, they cited “the lack of regulation in mortgage lending as a principal cause of the financial crisis that brought about the Great Recession and its grim aftermath.” None of the business owners cited regulations as having any negative impact on their businesses. What they did cite was the lack of spending by consumers and none complained of high taxes. As far as the stimulus, several respondents pointed to the 2009 Recovery Act (stimulus), which Republicans unanimously opposed, as helping to boost their businesses. A common remark was that the stimulus “allowed those folks to spend and have money and pay for the essentials.” The predominant remark and most obvious reason businesses are not hiring is that there is a simple lack of customers, and an oft-heard reason for not hiring is that “the business climate is so shaky that I would not want to undergo any expansion or outlay capital,” because Americans are not purchasing anything without jobs.
However, Republicans are not apt to listen to real private-sector job creators or economic experts who have said the stimulus created jobs that in turn increased consumer spending that helped the economy. McConnell and Boehner can continue their lies about regulations and taxes preventing private-sector hiring, but a nearly universal complaint is that companies are sitting on large inventories and until consumers start spending again, they cannot begin hiring or expanding. It is simply too much supply and not enough demand that prevents hiring; not burdensome regulations or high taxes as Republicans claim.
Republicans are insane to return to Bush-era economic policies as if this time deregulation and tax cuts will create jobs. It is as insane as GOP claims that spending cuts and reducing the nation’s debt will create jobs, and yet they repeat those lies as much as their deregulation and tax-cut memes. If America has learned anything about Republican economic policies, it is that they do not, have not, and will not help the economy or create jobs. America has tried Republicans’ economic policies for ten years and they have failed every possible test. There were 1.1 million jobs created in 2010, but they were the result of President Obama’s stimulus and not deregulation and tax cuts. Besides the million-plus jobs created, America’s auto industry was saved from extinction and for the first time in 9 years, America’s crumbling infrastructure got some much needed improvements.
Republicans assailed the president’s jobs plan before he even gave the speech and instead of offering any new ideas, they propose returning to failed policies that set the economy back at least a decade. As McConnell said, making the same mistake over and over again and expecting different results is insane. For the first time in his career, Mitch McConnell is correct; repeating Republicans’ failed economic policies and expecting a different result is insane. Hopefully, the American people will send Republicans strong signals that the country cannot afford to repeat one more day of their failed economic policies. Americans may not be the smartest people on the planet, but for the most part, they are not nearly as insane as Mitch McConnell or his Republican cohorts.