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July 5, 2015

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election 2012:

Line of Attack: Is it fair to go after Berkley for championing the stimulus?

Editor’s note: Line of Attack is a feature that will run each week until the Nov. 6 election. In Line of Attack, we will parse a political attack, looking at the strategy behind it, how the campaign is delivering it and what facts support or refute it. We’ll assign it a rating on the fairness meter: Legit, Eye Roll, Guffaw, Laughable or Outrageous.

Attack: Nevada Senate candidate Shelley Berkley thinks the federal government helped rescue Nevada with the stimulus – but “do you feel rescued?”

Method of delivery: Packaged by a political advocacy group and brought to you via television broadcast and the online radio site Pandora. Americans for Prosperity, the force behind this ad attacking Berkley, is a familiar face at the conservative family table. The group’s widely credited with launching the Republicans to major victories in 2010.

AFP dug back into that cycle for the hook of this ad: July 2009 footage of a crop-haired Berkley on the House floor, praising the stimulus for providing “extraordinary benefits” to Nevadans and the federal government for coming “to our rescue.”

A concerned woman’s voiceover then goes on to accuse Berkley of voting for “more wasteful spending and higher taxes” and quotes stats about foreclosures and unemployment.

Strategy: For Republicans, the stimulus is like Old Faithful, the most iconic evidence there is of “big government spending.” It gets their party faithful riled up and ready to run some Democrats out of office. The ad attempts to tie Berkley to that narrative, and make the voter think her stimulus-happy ways are what has kept Nevada in the economic dumps.

Fairness meter: Berkley did vote for the stimulus and was pretty vocal about her support for it. She also never came out to partially criticize it the way she has with the Affordable Care Act, so digging up the old footage is fair play.

To get to the bottom of the rest of it, you have to wade into the most festering economic swampland of this election cycle: Did the Keynesian stimulus help, or was it just throwing good money after bad?

Did the stimulus, by paying to keep teachers, public safety officials, and construction workers working for two years, help the economy from slumping worse than it did, or not? On the flip side, would cutting government spending create the jobs AFP says Nevada needed instead of the stimulus?

The economist’s answer would be the stimulus made things “less worse” in the short term, but that in the long term, unchecked debt will hamper job growth and stabilization.

But this is politics. And since you can’t prove an economic alternative that didn’t happen, shots like this are going to come fast and cheap.

All in all, it’s Legit on the politics, but it's an Eye Roll on the math.

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  1. I notice Demirijan coveniently omits the bail-outs and crony capitalism which was really at the heart of the "stimulous." It was an end run to pay-off supporters of Osama Obama and, boy, did it! In a big way! Picking & choosing winners and losers by politicians is a blot on our society and should be illegal, regardless of party or political leanings. That's not exactly what taxpayers expect their confiscated dollars to pay for. As for whether or not the "stimulous" is a "legit" avenue for anyone to question? That's a "no-brainer." All policy and all spending is "legit" to go after.

  2. Shelley Berkley falls in line with the tax and spend people. I say people and not Democrats because all Democrats are not tax and spend. She also appears to have made some underhanded moves to make sure her husband continues to reap financial success. That and the fact that neither she or Harry have done much for Nevada to get us out of this poor economic situation. IF the attacks are legit then let em fly.

  3. Can anyone point out when Keynesian economics actually worked? Didn't work for FDR. Didn't work for Obama either.

    Berkley supported the stimulas package and should be held accountable for it.

    And, BTW, didn't we have to borrow 40% of it from the Chinese in the first place?

  4. Klaus,
    Keynesian economics has worked every time it has been used. This would require you to read and I know you are averse to anything except conservative mythology. Keynes merely pointed out that when everyone cuts back to pay off debt everyone ends up suffering as demand crashes. If the public isn't spending and state governments have to meet balanced budget idiocies then who the h*ll do you think is left to spend to restart the economy? Private markets are sitting on trillions of dollars that are not being spent so their whining about lack of profit flies in the face of reality. It is lack of demand that is the problem at the same time our public infrastructure is decaying and real world environmental problems grow worse. Get a clue.
    As to Chinese investment in our economy were you also being typically German paranoid when the Japanese were doing so or the British in earlier decades? How about the German investments here? Were you as afraid of them?
    The facts are that humans are completely interdependent and whether we invest overseas or others invest here doesn't matter. It increases security as no one wants to lose money they have invested.
    Bottom line is that debt is a tool that everyone uses, not a morality play, and the Germans are insane when they conflate the two.