In a special "field hearing" of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held yesterday at Murfreesboro's Middle Tennessee State University, a group of top Tennessee Republicans (and one from the California) successfully manipulated the space-time continuum to offer reporters and the public a glimpse into the alternate reality from which they legislate.
The GOP leaders — including Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, Reps. Marsha Blackburn and Scott DesJarlais (who organized the event), California Rep. Darrell Issa, and Gov. Bill Haslam — assailed government regulators for the nation's struggling economy and, in so doing, created an Einstein-Rosenberg bridge (aka "wormhole") that opened a frightening vista into the party's world, known as "Dimension X," a reported source of the dark matter identified as "truthiness."
According to various media dispatches, the lawmakers blamed the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Labor Relations Board, financial reform laws,
and Newtonian physics and "Obamacare" for poor job growth in a hearing that occurred amid of worsening economic news and a swirling vortex of gamma radiation.
From a presser released by DesJarlais' office yesterday (h/t Knox News):
"The federal government has yet to grasp the effects of burdensome regulations that obstruct job growth and economic recovery. During the course of this Administration, regulatory costs have grown for American job creators across the board," said Chairman Issa. "We're going to Tennessee to hear directly from those on the ground who are surviving in this stifling regulatory environment because the private sector is not 'doing fine.'"
"Last year, I embarked on my Tennessee Job Creators Tour in an effort to talk directly with businesses owners here in Tennessee about ways that the federal government was hurting their ability to grow and create jobs," said Representative DesJarlais. "What I heard from them painted a troubling picture of Washington regulators imposing mountains of job-crushing bureaucratic red tape. I look forward to having Chairman Issa down to Tennessee to hear from our local job-creators on ways that Washington can reduce the barriers to private sector job creation.
With the (partial) exception of Alexander — one of the few in his party to maintain a residency on planet Earth — Rep. DesJarlais & Co. took the opportunity to rage against the governmental machine, blaming Democratic initiatives for the country's economic woes (their own obstructionist track record notwithstanding). Due to the fundamentally inhuman physical properties of Dimension X, the Republicans argued for a dirtier environment, less financial regulation, greater access to products containing high-fructose corn syrup and a repeal of President Obama's Affordable Care Act, measures that in their universe will create jobs and appease Zuul, gatekeeper of Gozer and custodian of Dimension X.
Of course, the claims are demonstrably false, no matter what universe you call home.
A 2011 study by the Economic Policy Initiative found that EPA regulations under the Obama Administration actually create jobs, in addition to creating a healthier workforce.
From the report's executive summary:
...the dollar value of the benefits of the major rules finalized or proposed by the EPA so far during the Obama administration exceeds the rules’ costs by an exceptionally wide margin. Health benefits in terms of lives saved and illnesses avoided will be enormous. Expressed in 2010 dollars:
• Setting aside the Cross-State Air Pollution rule, the combined annual benefits from all final major rules exceed their costs by $10 billion to $95 billion a year. The benefit/cost ratio ranges from 2-to-1 to 20-to-1.
• The net benefits from the Cross-State Air Pollution rule exceed $100 billion a year (this rule is treated separately because benefits accruing from action under the Bush administration and the Obama administration cannot be disentangled).
• The combined annual benefits from three major proposed rules examined here exceed their costs by $62 billion to $188 billion a year. The benefit/cost ratio ranges from 6-to-1 to 15-to-1.
Second, the costs of all the finalized and proposed rules total to a tiny sliver of the overall economy, suggesting that fears that these rules together will deter economic progress are unjustified. The calculations below describe the costs of the rules when “fully in effect.” A complete explanation of the calculations can be found in the text, but for now it is worth noting that it takes several years for most rules to take full effect. It is also worth noting that these cost calculations do not consider the offsetting direct economic benefits from the rules, such as increased worker productivity or consumer savings.
Similarly, claims that health care regulations are killing jobs are also out of this world, despite the media's gross parroting of the meme.
An analysis conducted last year by FactCheck.org found that the Grand Old Party repeatedly manufactures its own facts, twisting original Congressional Budget Office data to fit their talking points.
The flawed Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, which provides a convenient straw-man argument in any debate about regulation of the banking industry, breaks with the United State's history of terse, understandable reform legislation (à la the defunct Glass-Steagall Act, whose length was 10 times smaller than Dodd-Frank) in exchange for an overly complex labyrinth of rules. Indeed, Dodd-Frank was crafted with the aid of Wall Street lobbyists who made sure the bill was crippled right out of the gate with assists from both parties.
The allure of alternate realities not withstanding, yesterday's pitiful effort by Tennessee's most prominent Republicans to blame their political opponents for problems their party helped engineer unfortunately occurs in our reality, whether we like it or not. Unless you're living in Dimension X, decades worth of low taxes, deregulation and rampant soda consumption haven't increased GDP, either.