By Russell Berman - 03/27/12 11:58 PM EDT
Democrats on Tuesday had a message for House Republicans who are urging their party to take credit for the improvement in the economy: Good luck with that.
“That proposition is equally valid to them taking credit for the beautiful weather we had this March in Washington, D.C.,” Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.) said Tuesday. “Instead of snow, we had 75-degree temperatures and sunny skies, and I think the Republicans were equally responsible for that as they are the economic data.”
“I believe that if anybody’s going to get a pat on the back for [lower] unemployment and the better economy, it’s House Republicans, and not the president and not the Senate,” Rep. Jeff Landry (R-La.) said.
Landry and other Republicans argued that while the House GOP has not enacted many new laws, they have stopped Democratic policies that were making the economy worse.
“It’s the height of hypocrisy,” said Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “These guys have obstructed every step of the way. Despite their obstruction, the economy appears to be improving, and now they’re taking credit for that improvement?”
“House Republicans believe you can fool all of the people all of the time. You cannot,” Israel told The Hill. “And we will hold them accountable for obstructing progress on the economy, ending Medicare, every step of the way.”
Andrews said the claim that the House GOP majority is responsible for the recent job gains and drop in the unemployment rate is “totally false.” He attributed the improvements to the 2009 economic stimulus law fully taking effect, the December 2010 tax deal that extended the George W. Bush-era tax rates and unemployment insurance, and to the preventing of a national default last summer during the debate over increasing the debt limit.
Andrews said “some of the Republicans deserve credit” for the 2010 tax deal, since it was a bipartisan agreement.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) highlighted the GOP push for credit during a press conference Tuesday. He said the “economy improving … has gotten the attention of the Republicans.”
The effort to take credit, he added, “is interesting when they’ve spent the last year and a half doing everything they can to stop what we’ve tried to do to improve the economy.”
Earlier in the day, Reid’s spokesman, Adam Jentleson, mocked the Republican claims in a Twitter message: “After Rs take credit for the improved economy, maybe they’ll also take credit for killing Osama (while still blaming Obama for gas prices).”
Both economists and political analysts say that the incumbent president usually gets either the credit or the blame for economic conditions under his watch, which is one reason that Republican leaders are reluctant to take credit for the recent gains. Lawmakers and aides have also said it’s premature to celebrate the current recovery, given the threats posed by rising gas prices and the ongoing European debt crisis.