Hey, have you heard about this new report from Moody's Analytics? The one that says that if Republicans implement $61 billion in spending cuts like they've been talking about, it'll result in 700,000 jobs lost by the end of 2012? (John Boehner, somewhere, probably: "Meh.") It's pretty crazy. But in response, some Republicans are throwing shade at the report's author, a guy named Mark Zandi. Why? Who is this person? Let's take a look.
Zandi is the chief economist at Moody's, and he's done advising work for both Democrats and Republicans--including John McCain, during his most recent presidential campaign. In the past, Democrats have found it politically convenient to play up Zandi as a red-blooded conservative. (This Washington Post article quotes Harry Reid and Charles Schumer, both Democratic senators, calling Zandi a "Republican.") That's because Zandi tends to call for spending as the best way to kick-start the economy--which means Democrats can point to him and say, Hey, look! Even this right-wing friend of McCain's thinks we should spend more.
This week, a spokesman for Boehner called Zandi "a relentless cheerleader for the failed 'stimulus,'" which is a little closer to the truth. Zandi was indeed a strong advocate for the stimulus, and in 2009 was seen as one of the most politically influential economists in the country. About his political leanings, there's no real mystery: "I'm a registered Democrat," he told the Post in 2009. Which is not to say he's not mindful of the national debt: In the same report where he warns about the 700,000 lost jobs, Zandi also calls for a $400 billion reduction of the federal deficit each year.
"Too much cutting too soon would be counterproductive," Zandi writes in his report. But later, he adds that "much greater cuts will be needed, along with tax increases, to address the nation's daunting long-term fiscal challenges."