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From The Century Foundation

It’s that time of year again. That glorious weekend when thousands of uniquely dressed conservatives descend on Washington, D.C. to celebrate being the political advocates for upper-class, white, heterosexual Americans.

For those of you who were not invited and will be watching from home, here are five truths you won’t hear at CPAC:

1. We need more government spending, not less.

The U.S. is currently suffering from too little investment, not too much. As a result, economic growth remains sluggish, and unemployment is still high. Economists refer to this as a “liquidity trap,” and cutting spending, or austerity, is the wrong answer. Deficit hawks in the U.K. continue to demonstrate that austerity budgets during periods of sluggish demand push countries into recession.

The way out of a liquidity trap is increased government spending. What the economy really needs right now, according to Century Foundation and Economic Policy Institute fellow Andrew Fieldhouse, is a $2 trillion stimulus, not spending cuts. Fieldhouse suggests that an additional $2 trillion in spending could increase GDP by $8.4 trillion.

Of course, that $2 trillion needs to be invested in “high bang-per-buck” spending. Which brings us to…

2. Government spending on infrastructure helps business and creates jobs.

Government spending on infrastructure projects boosts the overall economy. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says that each $1 spent on infrastructure can boost the economy by as much as $2.20.

And, as President Obama reminded us in his State of the Union address:

“Ask any CEO where they’d rather locate and hire: a country with deteriorating roads and bridges, or one with high-speed rail and Internet, high-tech schools, and self-healing power grids?”

The most promising infrastructure investments are those involving public-private partnerships – projects in which private companies team up with federal, state, or local governments. Private companies usually do the building but they also invest in the project. Century Foundation senior fellow Michael Likosky says these public-private partnerships are the main way to “drive down the cost of doing business” on major infrastructure projects.

When the government can leverage spending with private money to build public projects that grows the economy and creates jobs, it’s a win all around.

3. Obamacare cuts the deficit. Repealing it will make the deficit larger.

Never mind that the ideas that became Obamacare originated from the conservative Heritage Foundation. Conservatives want it repealed because, they claim, it will add trillions to the deficit.

That’s not true.

The CBO has said that the Affordable Care Act (the official name of Obamacare) will in fact reduce deficits. As it turns out, the Act will actually reduce deficits by even more than CBO initially estimated.

In fact, CBO says that repealing Obamacare would actually increase deficits by $109 billion by 2022.

4. Universal pre-K is affordable and effective.

You’re probably not going to hear any CPAC attendees acknowledge the merits of President Obama’s proposal “to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America.”

If you do hear anyone talk about universal preschool at CPAC, they’re more likely to claim that it’s just too costly. But there’s a lot of reason to think that such programs can provide enormous returns on investment.

The Century Foundation’s Greg Anrig sorts out the early childhood research and points to a program in Chicago that provided a total return to society of $10.83 for every dollar invested. Anrig argues that the research “reinforces Obama’s case that effective early childhood education can be implemented on a wide scale.”

5. Mass shootings increased after the assault weapons ban expired.

CPAC convenes in a city the NRA says continues to have very strict gun control laws. But you won’t hear anyone there admit that gun control saves lives.

However, the fact is that mass shootings have increased by over 200 percent since the Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2004.

According to The Century Foundation’s Thérèse Postel, there have been a total of 28 mass shooting events since September 14, 2004. That’s an average of 3.5 per year. In the 10-year period during which the ban was in effect (a period which included Columbine and four other copycat shootings in the immediate aftermath), the rate was much lower – just 1.5 per year.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.com

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