'House of Cards': Why Frank Underwood's economic plan is crazy

Is Frank Underwood evil?
Is Frank Underwood evil?

Spoiler alert: Frank Underwood's economic policy in "House of Cards" is crazy.

At least it is through the first four episodes, which is all my binge has so far taken in.

With 18 months left in the White House, the fictional president on Netflix (NFLX, Tech30) wants to add 10 million jobs. That's over half a million jobs a month. Oh, and he wants to cut Social Security (no big deal). And all as a presumably lame-duck president.

Meanwhile, in the real world, the U.S. economy just had its best year of job growth since 1999, and it averaged about 224,000 jobs a month.

Even if President Underwood doubles his time frame to 36 months, that's still 277,000 jobs a month in "House of Cards" land.

Since President Obama took office six years ago, the economy has added about 10 million jobs. In other words, Underwood wants to achieve in 18 months what Obama did in six years.

Related: 'House of Cards' writers' Colbert inspiration

President Underwood, played with scheming charm by Kevin Spacey, uses Washington, D.C., as a guinea pig for his policy. He tells District residents: "If you want a job, you get a job."

Really, everyone gets a job? Economists consider "full employment" to be when 5% of workers are unemployed. Actual unemployment in Washington is currently 7.3%. Even with big government spending, it will take a lot of hiring to get unemployment down to even 5%. Underwood's guinea pig has a long way to go in 18 months.

Now wait a second. Because Frank is all about fairness, we should note that he might intend to project his jobs goals over more than 18 months -- even after he is out of office.

Besides, even though he said on national TV he wouldn't run, he might. And he could win. This is "House of Cards," after all. I know there must be more plot twists ahead.

Let's sum up. Underwood wants a hostile Congress to cut Social Security (the cliche is it's the "third rail of politics") and appropriate $500 billion on public spending to boost jobs in infrastructure, government and the private sector.

Or until Congress acts, Underwood is trying to jump start his program by taking money from the FEMA budget! It seems a preposterous (but fun) twist on President Obama's recent round of executive actions.

Yeah, OK.

Don't be surprised if he adds stellar wage growth and a Fed rate hike to his wish list.

To be continued ...

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