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Douglas Holtz-Eakin: ‘No One Would Argue That the Stimulus Has Done Nothing’

Republicans are pushing back hard against today’s unemployment report, which showed a lowerr-than-expected 247,000 new jobless and the overall unemployment rate falling 0.1 points to 9.4 percent. Former McCain campaign economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin spoke to reporters on a Republican National Committee-sponsored call to make the wonk’s case against reading too much into the report

“No real earnings growth in this report that would suggest sustained upward growth in this economy,” Holtz-Eakin said. “It cannot be considered good news that people left the labor force. If not for that, the unemployment rate might have creeped up to 9.6 percent, is my guess.”

Holtz-Eakin challenged Democratic rhetoric about the effect their policies have had in mitigating economic problems, though he allowed that “no one would argue that the stimulus has done nothing.” The problem: Some Republicans have argued exactly that. In February, Dick Armey, the former House GOP majority leader who now leads FreedomWorks, predicted that the stimulus would actually worsen the economic picture. “Taking money out of the private economy,” Armey wrote, “either through taxes or inflation… and spending it in a way that doesn’t offset the loss of money with real economic gains is worse than doing nothing.” In July, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), the GOP’s whip in the Senate, suggested canceling the rest of the stimulus in a column that ran down the ways it seemed, to him, to be failing and wasting money.

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