Washington Post’s Pearlstein Charges Republican Policies ‘Kill People Rather than Jobs’

Talk about incendiary and toxic talk. In Friday’s Washington Post, business section columnist Steven Pearlstein proclaimed that “what's particularly noteworthy about” congressional Republican “fixation with ‘job killing’” Democratic policies, such as Obamacare, “is that it stands in such contrast to the complete lack of concern about policies that kill people rather than jobs.”

Pearlstein, a former reporter who won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, charged: “Repealing health-care reform, for instance, would inevitably lead to thousands of unnecessary deaths each year because of an inability to get medical care.”

The columnist proceeded to fret: “Although lack of effective regulation led directly to the deaths of 78 coal miners last year in West Virginia, Republicans continue to insist that any reform of mine safety laws is bad for miners' employment.” And: “Republicans also continue to oppose food safety legislation that could save the lives of hundreds of Americans killed each year by contaminated food.”

There is, Pearlstein alleged, “an unmistakable redbaiting quality to the ‘job-killing’ rhetoric, a throwback to the McCarthy era.”

An excerpt from “Let’s kill this GOP canard,” Pearlstein’s January 7 column:

Republicans these days can't get through a sentence without tossing in their new favorite adjective, "job-killing."

There's "job-killing legislation," in particular the health-care reform law. And "job-killing regulations," especially anything coming out of the EPA and the IRS. Big deficits are always "job-killing," which might come as something of a surprise to all you Keynesians out there, along with the "job-killing spending binge" and even "job-killing stimulus projects."...

Ironically, the first order of legislative business in the new Republican House will be to repeal last year's health-care reform law. Since the immediate impact of the measure will be to allow 30 million more Americans the chance to buy drugs and medical services from doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies, it's hard to imagine a more effective way to reduce employment in the one sector that is actually adding jobs.

The other GOP priority is to cut $100 billion this year from the government's domestic spending, which translates into the loss of close to a million jobs for government workers and contractors. Apparently, in the stylized way that Republicans count things, those positions don't count as real jobs.

What's particularly noteworthy about this fixation with "job killing" is that it stands in such contrast to the complete lack of concern about policies that kill people rather than jobs.

Repealing health-care reform, for instance, would inevitably lead to thousands of unnecessary deaths each year because of an inability to get medical care.

Although lack of effective regulation led directly to the deaths of 78 coal miners last year in West Virginia, Republicans continue to insist that any reform of mine safety laws is bad for miners' employment.

Republicans also continue to oppose food safety legislation that could save the lives of hundreds of Americans killed each year by contaminated food, just as they oppose any regulation that would effectively keep assault weapons out of the hands of convicted criminals and narco-terrorists who kill thousands of innocent victims on both sides of the Rio Grande.

And although a blue-ribbon panel has now concluded that a lack of effective government regulation contributed to an explosion in the Gulf of Mexico that led to the deaths of 11 oil rig workers (along with countless numbers of birds, fish and other wildlife), all Republicans can talk about is the jobs that might be lost as a result of more vigorous oversight of deep-water drilling.

I wonder how Republicans and their media posse would like it if Democrats started referring to "genocidal" deregulation or the "murderous" repeal of health-care reform. Or if Republican economic policies were likened to the infamous neutron bomb - they kill the workers but leave their jobs intact.

Unfair? No doubt. But no more so than portraying as "job-killing" every regulation, every tax and every dollar of government spending.

There is an unmistakable redbaiting quality to the "job-killing" rhetoric, a throwback to the McCarthy era. It reflects the sort of economic fundamentalism better suited to Afghan politics than American. Rather than contributing to the political dialogue, it is a substitute for serious discussion...

— Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center