According to calculations by the Congressional Budget Office, Moody’s Economy, and myriad other economists, unemployment benefits are the single best way to pump money into the economy and generate economic activity, as the unemployed are very likely to spend all of the benefits they receive (thus moving money into local businesses). But during an interview with MSNBC’s Mike Barnicle today, Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) scoffed at the notion that unemployment benefits help the economy. “Unemployed people hire people? Really? I didn’t know that,” Shadegg jeered:
BARNICLE: What about the fact that unemployment benefits pumped into the economy are an immediate benefit to the economy? Immediate…
SHADEGG: No, they’re not! Unemployed people hire people? Really? I didn’t know that.
BARNICLE: Unemployed people spend money Congressman, ’cause they have no money.
SHADEGG: Aha! So your answer is it’s the spending of money that drives the economy and I don’t think that’s right. It’s the creation of jobs that drives the economy…Actually, the truth is the unemployed will spend as little of that money as they possibly can. Job creators create jobs.
BARNICLE: Have you ever been unemployed? Have you ever been unemployed?
SHADEGG: Yes, I have.
BARNICLE: What did you do with the money? Save it?
Shadegg never managed to explain why all of the job creators he cites would create any jobs if households aren’t spending money. In that vein, MarketPlace noted today that “when unemployment checks stop, it’s felt right away by businesses like gas stations, apartment operators, and grocery stores.”
Barnicle is an ass, but in this case he was spot-on in challenging Shadegg on this. We keep hearing about theory of markets from the right, and then a blithering moron like Shadegg gets up there and completely ignores the very basic concept of supply and demand. And in one fell swoop, Barnicle completely debunked the entire supply-side Reaganite economics.