GOP Leaders Say Republican Return to Power Deserves as Much Credit as Stimulus for Lower Unemployment Rate

By Dan Joseph | April 6, 2011 | 4:30 AM EDT

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.)

( -- Two House Republican leaders said the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives and Republicans' proposed spending cuts deserve as much, if not more, credit for the recent drop in the U.S. unemployment rate than does President Barack Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus package.

At a Capitol Hill briefing on Tuesday, Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was asked if the recent drop in the unemployment rate from 9.0 percent in February to 8.8 percent in March was evidence that the president’s economic stimulus plan had worked.

“If you’re going to credit the stimulus policies that have brought that on, you could also just as easily credit Republicans taking control of the House and insisting on a check to an unfettered power that this administration had with the Democratic majority in Washington,” said Cantor.

Republican House Conference Chairman Jeff Hensarling (R-Texas), who also attended the briefing echoed the Majority Leader’s sentiments and pointed to three events that he believes have helped improve the unemployment rate and the nation’s economic outlook.

“I would attribute it to actually three phenomena,” said Hensarling.  “Number one, people now know what the upper limit of the legislative plane is because there’s finally a check on Obamanomics.  Number two, House Republicans and Senate Republicans were able to forestall temporarily the single largest tax increase in American history.  And then, finally, you got what Warren Buffet calls the natural regenerative power of the economy.  This is an economy that wants to bounce back.  The question is why is all this capital still sitting on the sidelines?  It is because we have anti-growth policies.”

Despite the recent improvements, Hensarling said the economic recovery has been far too sluggish and blamed the federal stimulus spending and other spending programs passed by the Democrats as reasons for the lackluster recovery.

“The question is, why did it take so long and why is the recovery so tepid?” said Hensarling.  “Again, look at the history of all the post-war recessions after World War II, and what you will see is the larger the plunge, the larger and the quicker the snapback.  This is atypical.  And we believe that what we are seeing to a great extent is the debt hangover.”

Both Cantor and Hensarling told reporters that the unemployment rate was still too high and while they blamed Obama’s legislative victories for prolonging the economic malaise, they pointed to the Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisc.) “Path to Prosperity” budget for 2012 as being the best way to get the economy back on track. 

Rep. Jeb Hensarling reading the Democrats’ health care reform bill, on November 3. 2009. (Photo: Jeb Hensarling Web site/Flikr)

"We're spending the nation into bankruptcy,” said Hensarling.  “We have Obamacare, we’ve got Dodd-Frank, we’ve got EPA -- and that’s why all this capital is sitting on the sidelines and instead of trickling into the economy. If you would enact the ‘Path to Prosperity,’ it would flood the economy with new jobs and new revenue.”

As for the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency,  Hensarling was referring to new regulations, enacted by the White House, which would treat carbon emissions as a pollutant and regulate them under the Clean Air Act.

Today, Rep. Ryan released the Republican’s proposed 2012 budget – The Path to Prosperity: Restoring America’s Promise -- that would reform Medicare and Medicaid and reduce deficits by an estimated $4.4 trillion over the next decade.