The Power of Shamelessness

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Everyone is mocking Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor for this tweet:

Don’t get me wrong: in a purely substantive sense, the mockery is well deserved. But in a political sense, it’s not. Cantor’s tweet is almost comically shameless, but it’s also one of the reasons that Republicans continue to get credit for their economic policies even though their economic policies are routinely disastrous. It’s because they’re willing to be shameless and they don’t really care if anyone calls them on it.

Paul Ryan’s plan to shrink the federal government and gut Medicare is called…..”The Path to Prosperity.” Of course it is. Every Republican plan is called something like that. It’s shameless! The Reagan boom? All due to lower marginal tax rates, just like they predicted. The Clinton boom years? A delayed reaction to the Reagan era. Healthy corporate earnings in the aughts? All due to Republican reductions in capital gains taxes. Privatizing Social Security? It’s all about encouraging capital formation and growing the economy. Fighting bank regulation? They just want to reduce regulatory uncertainty and allow the economy to boom. Etc. etc. And there are always plenty of think tank analyses to back this stuff up with hard numbers.

It seems laughable, but it’s not. If you say that your policies are responsible for economic growth enough times, people will believe it. Nobody really understands this stuff, after all. And the more confidently and shamelessly you say it, the more believers you’ll have. So why shouldn’t Cantor claim that Republicans are responsible for all the job growth since January? Liberal bloggers will mock, but that’s nothing to be afraid of. Not as long as the steady stream of shamelessness keeps convincing people that Republican policies are putting us back on the right economic track. And it does.

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This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

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