Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Republican Priorities


  1. In the interests of fairness, this was somewhat debunked by politifact.com.

    The right has factually made a priority in bringing culture war legislation in Congress over other legislation including job creation - by a lot, both in terms of numbers, but also in timing and priority, as in what they brought most, and first.

    These figures were compiled by some honest research; the problem is that the search criteria was a little flawed that was used to do the research.

    From politifact.com on this:
    We wondered about the accuracy of the post based on Spicer’s argument, so we took a look.

    We didn’t find anything about legislative subject headings at CRS’ own website, but we did find a list of subjects for current legislation at THOMAS, the legislative-tracking website run by the Library of Congress.

    Using THOMAS, you can search bills that have been offered during the current Congress -- the 112th -- by their CRS subject matter. The list of subject areas begins in alphabetical order here.

    When comparing the numbers, we allowed for some variation due to the list being continuously updated as new bills are introduced. That said, we found that the numbers in the Internet post were quite close to what was listed in THOMAS for abortion, religion, family relationships, marriage, firearms, taxation and government investigations.

    What about "job creation"? As it turned out, we couldn’t find a topic area by that name at all.

    By Moore’s count, opencongress.org includes 4,795 issue areas in all. But only a fraction of these subject headings have any bills listed under them, because CRS has not tagged any bills with those headings during the current Congress.

    We did not hear back from CRS or THOMAS, so we don’t know why CRS has used the "job creation" label in the past but not this year.

    However, our research suggests that the lack of bills labeled "job creation" this year doesn't mean there have been no bills aimed at promoting employment introduced in the current Congress.

    Why? The House version of President Barack Obama’s American Jobs Act -- which we’re sure the president and his supporters would characterize as a "job creation" bill -- doesn’t even get slapped with that subject heading.

    The bill -- officially H.R. 12, introduced on Sept. 21, 2011, by Rep. John Larson, D-Conn. -- is listed under no fewer than 68 separate subject headings, including "aviation and airports," "Buy American requirements," "electric power generation and transmission," "Internet and video services," "metals," "solid waste and recycling" and "water use and supply."

    But it doesn’t carry the label "job creation."

    Instead, several closely related subjects have been applied to H.R. 12, including "economic development," "economic performance and conditions," "employee hiring," "employment and training programs," "labor and employment," "unemployment" and "wages and earnings."

    The politifact analysis shows this to be a piece researched and written in apparent good faith, but just not researched enough. I don't want us to continue the error here.

  2. fyi, here is the link to politifact.com site:

    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/oct/25/facebook-posts/blog-post-says-gop-has-sponsored-zero-job-creation/that specific

    and here is some of the rest of their findings:

    And how many bills have been introduced under these other headings? Here’s the list. (Some bills may be included in more than one category.)

    Economic development: 64 bills
    Economic performance and conditions: 55 bills
    Employee hiring: 24 bills
    Employment and training programs: 172 bills
    Labor and employment: 151 bills
    Unemployment: 107 bills
    Wages and earnings: 143 bills

    In reality, then, six of these seven jobs-related categories included more bills than either abortion or marriage, and four of the seven included more bills than religion, family relationships or firearms.

    We see a few additional problems with the post.

    It’s wrong to say that only Republicans sponsored bills on social issues, taxation and government investigations.

    For every legislative subject cited in the ad, the THOMAS list includes bills introduced both by Republicans and Democrats. We checked each topic area to make sure that Democrats had offered bills on those topics, and in each case, they did. So it’s wrong for the post to say that "Republicans have introduced" that many bills. Both parties have. (Spicer, to his credit, did not make this mistake; the creator of the subsequent post did. "When I state that these folks were elected to get us more jobs, I did not exclude the Democrats," Spicer told PolitiFact.)

    It’s wrong to point to this data as evidence that Republicans are going hog wild on "government investigations."

    To be sure, Republicans are using their control of House committees to probe government operations, including potential corruption and scandals. (The Democrats did the same after 2006 when they controlled Congress and George W. Bush was in the White House.) But it’s wrong to suggest that the 445 "government investigation" bills amount to evidence in support of this tendency.

    Most of the bills tagged with this category are there because they contain some sort of oversight mechanism, such as defining who will oversee a newly created federal program and how. So most of these bills involve run-of-the-mill government oversight mechanisms, not an effort to gin up high-profile administration scandals.

    Keep in mind that these categories are very broad.

    Labeling a bill with a subject category doesn’t mean the bill is primarily about that issue. For instance, a very, very large number of congressional bills have some impact on the tax code, even if it’s tangential. That’s why so many bills get categorized as being tax-related.

    To one degree or another for the other, this pattern holds for subject headings, too. The "religion" category doesn’t just include bills of interest to conservative Christians, as someone reading the post might assume. It also includes the "Noose Hate Crime Act of 2011," sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas and the "Veterans, Women, Families with Children, and Persons With Disabilities Housing Fairness Act of 2011," sponsored by Rep. Al Green, D-Texas.

    "Job creation" means different things to different parties.

    Most conservatives today are dead-set against traditional forms of government-based economic stimulus known as Keynesian economics, primarily spending initiatives. So if "job creation" is defined to primarily include Keynesian initiatives, then Republicans aren’t going to be sponsoring any "job creation" bills. Instead, Republicans argue that tax cuts and budget cutting will help the economy prosper.

    I hope readers find this helpful, and that it is a credit to this blog that we point out mistakes, try to be accurate - and correct ourselves and each other.

    THAT is what separates us from sources like Fox News, Limbaugh, etc.

  3. dog gone:

    "THAT is what separates us from sources like Fox News, Limbaugh, etc."

    Wrong. Your retraction/correction is the result of what separates you from them, integrity and honesty.

  4. I like my version better, it includes the "firearms legislation." Who cares if it's accurate? It makes a good point about Republican priorities.

  5. Who cares if it's accurate? Really? Auditioning for FoxNews, are you?

  6. Greg the accuracy I don't care about is whether one of those numbers is 36 or 52. The point's the same.