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On slow news days—that is, when Dick Cheney or Sarah Palin haven't said anything—there's always GOP chairman Michael Steele.
He made website headlines earlier this week when he chastised a 23-year-old woman after she had interrupted him at a Howard University meeting to say that everyone in the country deserved access to good health care, citing the case of her own mother who recently died of cancer because she couldn't afford chemo medications. Then on Friday, Steele looked particularly out of it within a Washington Post story on the stimulus and the economy.
The front-page article reported that "economists generally agree that the package has played a significant part in stabilizing the economy. They are less certain about the size of the impact." The piece quoted a former assistant Treasury secretary from the Bush-Cheney administration, Phillip Swagel, who said President Obama's stimulus package is "starting to play a role, helping us to have slightly positive rather than slightly negative GDP growth." It cited IHS Global Insight, an economic consulting firm, which estimated the stimulus has added 1 percent to gross domestic product this year. Mark Zandi, chief economist of Economy.com and a former John McCain supporter, told the newspaper, "I don't think it's any accident that the economy has gone out of recession and into recovery at the same time stimulus is providing its maximum economic impact."
So there's a consensus: the stimulus package has produced results. Enter Steele. The article reported,
On Thursday, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele discounted the impact of the stimulus plan. "Vice President Biden has been trying for 200 days to convince the American people the president's economic stimulus experiment is working, but just like their government-run health-care scheme, no one is buying it," he said.
Obviously, Steele had not consulted with Zandi, Swagel, IHS Global Insight, or most economists. There are indeed questions an administration foe can raise about the stimulus. Has it been quick enough? Big enough? Targeted correctly? Is the bang worth the bucks? Only a hack with no regard for reality would insist that it has absolutely not worked and that no one believes it has had an impact. Yet that's what Steele said, proving once again that he is a guy who's hard to take seriously.
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