Don’t You Dare Try to Juice the Economy. That’s Treason!

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As the resident Fed bore, what interested me about Rick Perry’s attack on Ben Bernanke, aside from the additional evidence that the guy seems a few books short of a library, was his implicit acknowledgment that printing more money could help juice the economy. Presumably that’s why it would be so treasonous to do it before the election. (Ben Bernanke is actually a Republican, and he doesn’t work for Obama, but whatever.) I tend to agree that looser monetary policy could help at the margins, but I think the official Tea Party line that Perry is supposed to be spouting is that printing money is an unmitigated economic disaster, the Fed is turning us into Zimbabwe, and so on. Anyway, if juicing the economy for political purposes is treason, isn’t opposing efforts to juice the economy for political purposes even worse?

This question is going to keep coming up as President Obama starts his public campaign for additional payroll tax cuts, additional infrastructure projects and other Keynesian proposals designed to create jobs. Republicans are already blasting them as political efforts to boost the economy before the 2012 election. Which is probably fair. But boosting the economy is a good idea, even in an election year. And when Obama visited that advanced battery plant I wrote about last week, he opened a new line of attack, suggesting that Republicans are blocking his jobs proposals because they’re desperate to prevent him from getting reelected. Which is certainly fair.

It’s hard to imagine Obama getting any jobs measures through Congress before 2012, even the tax cuts that Republicans love when anyone else proposes them. But he’s probably right that his only hope is to make Republicans nervous that continued obstructionism will make them look like they’re trying to tank the economy for political purposes. Like the guy from Texas said, that’s almost treacherous.