Boehner Re-Elected Speaker of the House

West Chester lawmaker promises to tackle debt, jobs

U.S. Speaker John Boehner
U.S. Speaker John Boehner

In news that will surprise almost no one, John Boehner was re-elected to the U.S. House of Representative’s top spot today. Boehner, a Republican from West Chester, will now act as U.S. House speaker for the 113th Congress.

Just moments after his re-election, Boehner pledged to tackle the U.S. debt and deficit. The line is nothing new. When President Barack Obama stepped into the Oval Office, the debt and deficit became top concerns for Republicans after eight years of binge spending and tax cutting under former president George W. Bush.

But focusing on the debt could hurt an already slow economy. In recent years, many economists, including Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, have criticized budget austerity measures for dampening economic growth.

In fact, Republicans recently embraced the economic fact by joining the rest of the country in freaking out about the fiscal cliff. The primary concern with the fiscal cliff was that it would have cut spending and raised taxes so much and so quickly that it would have thrown the country back into recession. The Congressional Budget Office estimated the wave of austerity would have spiked the U.S. unemployment rate to 9.1 percent by the end of 2013, up from November’s rate of 7.7 percent.

In Europe, governments have learned the lessons of austerity all too well. Last year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was pushing Europe to balance its books. Now, top IMF economists are

releasing papers

admitting the IMF greatly underestimated the negative impact austerity has on the economy.

In other words, if Republicans continue focusing on austerity measures to fix the immediate deficit, the economy could get worse.

Boehner regained the top seat in the U.S. House largely thanks to redistricting. As

CityBeat covered in this week’s issue

, redistricting helped Republicans win the House despite losing the popular vote to Democrats.
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