Appearing on CNN Sunday, Romney endorser and VP wannabe Bob McDonnell gave his GOP credit for the nation's improving economic outlook. "Look, I'm glad the economy is starting to recover," the Virginia Governor declared, "but I think it's because of what Republican governors are doing in their states, not because of the president." Of course, McDonnell's boast is laughable on its face, and not merely because the draconian budget cuts and 600,000 jobs shed by state and local governments have been slowing the American economic recovery for the past three years. As it turns out, Governor McDonnell also from the ever-changing GOP script on who gets credit and blame for the state of the economy.
January 2011: Republicans Take Credit for Job Gains
As Ben Smith wrote at the time, "19 days in, GOP leadership takes credit for job growth." Trumpeting the improving jobs outlook, Eric Cantor's office issued a statement claiming:
THERE ARE THE JOBS: Republicans Prevent Massive Tax Increase, Economy Begins to Improve.
In response, Steve Benen lamented, "Even by the standards of the most shameless hack, this is farcical," adding, "Worse, it's part of a growing pattern."
Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), for example, argued two weeks ago, for example, that the recent good news -- private-sector job growth, big corporate profits, major gains in the major Wall Street indexes -- that occurred throughout 2010 were the result of Republican tax policies. As Kyl sees it, business leaders in early 2010 predicted the tax policy agreement crafted in late 2010, and started growing the economy based on their future-predicting abilities.
On Fox News last week, House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) offered a related argument, insisting that indications of economic improvements are "in large part" because Republicans "won our majority and we're pursuing pro-growth policies."
Summer 2011: "Obama Made the Economy Worse"
But then that spring, the U.S. economy was battered by the mushrooming European debt crisis, conflict in Libya, and the reckless debt ceiling crisis manufactured by Congressional Republicans. That slowdown in economic growth and the persistently high unemployment produced a new fraudulent Republican talking point: "Obama made the economy worse."
Despite a mountain of data and the overwhelming consensus of economists - including John McCain's 2008 brain trust - that President Obama's policies saved the American economy from calamity and made recovery possible, Republicans claimed exactly the opposite. As one study after another debunked GOP myths about supposed "job creators", "uncertainty", "job-killing regulations" and responsibility for the debt ceiling crisis, the conservative chorus sang as one.
For months, Mitt Romney repeated his long-ago debunked claim that President Obama "did not cause this recession, but he made it worse." Speaker John Boehner regurgitated that point five times during his State of the Union pre-buttal on Fox News Sunday before concluding afterwards that Obama's "policies are making our economy worse." And in his official Republican response, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels declared President Obama "has held back rather than sped economic recovery" and "cannot claim that the last three years have made things anything but worse."
Then the January 2012 jobs report came out. Once again, the Republicans changed their tune.
February 2012: Republicans Declare "We Can Do Better"
With word that the U.S. economy generated 243,000 new jobs last month, the "Hope America Fails" crowd in the GOP once again updated their talking points. On Friday, GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney offered his latest formulation:
"Unfortunately, these numbers cannot hide the fact that President Obama's policies have prevented a true economic recovery. We can do better."
Eric Cantor, who only a year earlier took credit for the improving unemployment pictures, insisted last week
"The jobs numbers today are certainly welcome news," Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said. "I think all of us want to see more Americans get back to work. But as my colleagues have laid out, we could do a lot better."
"The American people are still asking, 'Where are the jobs?'"
The jobs are coming, albeit too slowly. But to the degree that the American economy is improving at all, it has absolutely nothing to do with Bob McDonnell's GOP governors in the states or Republicans on Capitol Hill.
UPDATE: It should be noted that conservatives began blaming the 2008 implosion on Wall Street on the "Obama recession" before he had won the election, let alone taken the oath of office. Unsurprisingly, when the stock market began to rebound in mid-2009, Fox News declared it the "Bush recovery." More details on the GOP effort to pin the blame on the donkey here.