This is the harsh ruling PolitiFact had for Mitch McConnell’s claim that the economy improved because the GOP won. Further, “The data we found suggest McConnell is engaging in some wishful thinking.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) started the new session off with a bang Wednesday by claiming in Senate floor speech that the recent economic uptick appeared to “coincide” with “the expectation of a new Republican Congress.”
But then reality showed up and it was not impressed. Not only is there no causation, but McConnell is not even correct about the timing of the uptick. This is a Mitt Romney level fib — it doesn’t even have its feet near the ground and it’s layered with hypocrisies and etch-a-sketching.
Here’s what McConnell said: “After so many years of sluggish growth, we’re finally starting to see some economic data that can provide a glimmer of hope. The uptick appears to coincide with the biggest political change of the Obama administration’s long tenure in Washington: the expectation of a new Republican Congress.”
This figment of McConnell’s imagination is Romney level etch-a-sketching because Republicans spent the entire election (and acutally, last 6 years) telling us that Obama had ruined the economy and only they could fix it, in between fear mongering and blaming Obama for Ebola. But now they are taking credit for an economic uptick that they denied until they won.
Even worse, some of the data McConnell’s office cited to justify the Senator’s claim is directly attributable to Democratic ideas and policies that Republicans have relentlessly opposed and undermined. Not only is there no causation, it is not even an accurate statement. This is right up there with Mitt Romney trying to take credit for the auto bailout he trolled and opposed at every turn.
PolitiFact pointed out that correlation is not causation, but even this was not enough. They asked, “But is McConnell even right that the economic data and the political expectations coincided? We focused on two questions.
First, when did “the expectation of a new Republican Congress” actually solidify? And second, was there an uptick in economic data that actually coincided with that time frame? We’ll also briefly address the question of causation, even though McConnell didn’t explicitly claim that.”
Their conclusion based on facts? “The data we found suggest McConnell is engaging in some wishful thinking.”
The fact finders determined many problems with McConnell’s claim. First, they say:
…an “expectation” of a GOP takeover didn’t emerge until the beginning of September at the earliest, and possibly as late as the second half of September.This leads to our next question. Has there been an economic “uptick” that “appears to coincide” with this timeline?
They went through their figures and of course, it did not. “… the bulk of this growth occurred before the expectation of a GOP Senate began to jell.” On top of this, there was tremendous growth in the second quarter, at which point they note, “the New York Times model showed the Democrats likelier to win control than the Republicans.”
Ouch. It gets worse.
Here’s the Romney claiming credit for the auto bailout moment. One of the growth factors cited by McConnell’s office to justify his claim (just in case you thought maybe it was a misunderstanding, no, his office supplied numbers they claim back the Senator up) is attributable directly to policies that Republicans oppose and have done everything in their power to undermine. It is, in fact, an endorsement for the intervention of government.
Gary Burtless, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution, said one reason GDP and employment have increased a bit faster in recent months “is that government investment, government consumption, and public employee payrolls have recently been rising instead of falling.” Given this, McConnell’s comments linking the GOP and accelerated economic growth are ironic, Burtless said, since Republicans have been at the forefront of cutting government spending and payrolls.
In conclusion PolitiFact finds “the economic recovery was under way well before September, which is our best estimate for when the ‘expectation’ of a GOP Senate solidified. We rate the statement False.”
In other words, McConnell basically just scored a touchdown for the other team. He drew attention to the improving economy under Obama, and this caused an examination of the improvements, which led to attention being put on the fact that government intervention was a key part of the success. In other words, the President and the Democrats were right and the Republicans were wrong.
The next time a Republican claims that consumer confidence will go up if they get elected, the press might want to revisit the reasons behind this ruling.
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Sarah has been credentialed to cover President Barack Obama, then VP Joe Biden, 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and exclusively interviewed Speaker Nancy Pelosi multiple times and exclusively covered her first home appearance after the first impeachment of then President Donald Trump.
Sarah is two-time Telly award winning video producer and a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.
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