Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 5, 2009

PERCEPTION V. REALITY.... Former Bush Press Secretary Dana Perino played her usual role on Fox News yesterday, trashing economic recovery efforts. Most of her comments were easy to dismiss, but a couple of remarks stood out.

She noted, for example, that White House officials "try to claim that the stimulus bill worked and I just look at all the polling data and no one believes it." In other words, it doesn't matter what's true -- it matters whether people can be misled into believing things that aren't true. (That is, of course, why Fox News exists.)

As much as I'd like to think otherwise, there's probably something to this. We know the stimulus has been effective in rescuing the economy from collapse; we know the stimulus has helped create as many as 1.6 million jobs; we know the stimulus has produced economic growth for the first time in a year; and we know that if we'd listened to Republicans at the height of the crisis, there'd be no talk of recovery. But if "no one believes it," there are minimal political benefits.

Similarly, Perino called the notion of saving jobs that would have been eliminated a "cockamamie scheme," which "everyone knows" is "fake."

Now, those of us who've watched Perino over the years know that the poor thing is a few watts short of a light bulb. But, again, her larger point about perceptions is rather sound -- what's real matters less than what's believed.

With that in mind, I suspect Democratic leaders and officials would be wise to disseminate this report from ABC News last night far and wide.

Remember, as far as conservatives are concerned, none of these jobs should exist right now, and the smarter move would have been to impose a five-year spending freeze at the height of the economic crisis.

Indeed, to listen to Perino, the notion that some jobs were going to be eliminated, but the stimulus prevented the layoffs, is so complex a concept that it's literally unbelievable.

If you can't watch the clip, here's a transcript:

Charles Gibson, ABC News: The White House has been under scrutiny regarding the number of jobs created by the $727 billion economic stimulus program. Reports from The Administration and Congress have provided only rough estimates. So, we asked Chris Bury to see whether he could find evidence as to whether the program had paid off.

Chris Bury: For these police cadets in Missouri, teachers in Virginia and construction workers in Pennsylvania, the stimulus means paychecks.

Bury: What were you doing before this?

John Barrett, Construction Worker: I was laid off, collecting unemployment, trying to survive.

Bury: After eight months of scraping by, John Barrett is among the painters, carpenters and other tradesmen newly hired to fix up broken down public housing in Philadelphia.

Barrett: It means a lot. It means we can start living like we used to live.

Bury: The jobs came only after the Philadelphia Housing Authority got a nice slice of that stimulus, $127 million. Would you have these jobs without the stimulus money?

Carl Greene, Executive Director, Philadelphia Housing Authority: Without the stimulus money, 3,000 less people would have the opportunity to work.

Bury: On projects like this, the stimulus means more than just construction jobs. Tens of millions of dollars in new federal spending are rippling across the region. At first, the owner of this Pennsylvania window company had big doubts about the president's plan.

Alan Levin, CEO, Northeast Building Products: I was definitely skeptical, wondering if we're mortgaging our future.

Bury: Now, his firm is building the windows for that public housing and hiring another 100 workers. and now?

Levin: I'm a believer. I think everyone in this factory is a believer.

Bury: So is the St. Louis Police Force. After budget cuts canceled this entire cadet class, stimulus money revived it -- $8.7 million to pay 50 salaries for three years.

Dan Isom, St. Louis Metro Police Chief: This is the time to invest in police officers, not disinvest in them.

Bury: Unlike those police officers, 275 teachers in Chesterfield, Virginia, are getting only one year's salary after $20 million in stimulus spending here.

Smith, Chesterfield County Schools, Va.: We're going to save jobs, but we know it's a one-time fix.

Bury: But any jobs are better than none, say the stimulus believers and they see the benefits spreading beyond mere paychecks, to safer streets, stronger schools and better housing.

Reality has a well known liberal bias.

Steve Benen 11:15 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (34)

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Comments

...we know that the stimulus wasn't nearly as big and effective as it should have been. it was capped by the Repugnant clamor and the Dim's chickenshit cowardice, and it was hollowed out a great deal by "tax cuts."

The real reason Perino and other certified idiots can blather on is that the whole fucking thing was semi-botched at birth.

And the perception that the stimulus didn't do anything is because. and excuse me for screaming, but isn't it god damned obvious?

NOT DOING ENOUGH FEELS EXACTLY LIKE NOT DOING ANYTHING FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE IN CRISIS...

Posted by: neill on December 5, 2009 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

If anyone knows how to mislead people into believing something is true when it's not, it would be someone from the Bush Administration, particularly someone from the press office.

Posted by: jpeckjr on December 5, 2009 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

Dear Perino,
Universal Truth Is Not Measured In Mass Appeal.

Posted by: glutz78 on December 5, 2009 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Perino called the notion of saving jobs that would have been eliminated a "cockamamie scheme,"

As a noted Cuban history expert, she should have likened it to the Bay of Pigs invasion.

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on December 5, 2009 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Tommy Smothers made the brilliant observation a few years ago that "Truth is what you can get people to believe."

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on December 5, 2009 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

What I want to know is who took the embarrassment gene out of Dana Perino, and how did they do it? There's a fortune in that knowledge, I tell you, a fortune.

Posted by: SRW1 on December 5, 2009 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

She noted, for example, that White House officials "try to claim that the stimulus bill worked and I just look at all the polling data and no one believes it."

Dana Perino should remove the words "try to" from the above. Adding it implies that admin. officials are lying. But of course, the network on which she appeared isn't known for telling the truth.

Posted by: Hannah on December 5, 2009 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

(A) You can't blame perino. With the bush administration it was ALWAYS perception and never substance, mostly because substance was usually lacking.

(B) As I have noted before, if Dana wants to see what happens when there is an economic meltdown and your response is to cut budgets instead of stimulate the economy, California provides a wonderful example of just how well that works.

Posted by: dweb on December 5, 2009 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

But it has always been thus. Whatever meme gets the most play amongst the Village media is what people will believe. After all, there are far too many people who say that their beliefs are what they are "because I heard it on TV," read it in a newspaper (or online).

Most people do not have the time--and many not the inclination--to find out what is really true versus what is the meme. Most people don't know the difference. That's why:

--The stimulus isn't working.
--Deficits suddenly matter.
--This is a center-right nation.
--We must rein in entitlements.
--Tax cuts are universally good.
--We must fight them over there so we don't have to fight them here.
--Government is not the answer.
--Al Gore invented the internet.
--There is no consensus on global warming.
--Everything must be bipartisan during Democratic Administrations.

The list goes on and on.

Posted by: terraformer on December 5, 2009 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Logical consistency is the last thing that you would expect from the Repub idiots, but someone should point out to them that if there is no way to know how many jobs would have been lost if there was no stimulus, there are even less ways to know what would have been achieved by implementing the cockamamie schemes proposed by the GOP morons.

Posted by: gregor on December 5, 2009 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Here's an article re manufacturing job growth:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091205/ap_on_bi_ge/us_stress_map_manufacturing

Perhaps the admin should distribute it as well.

Posted by: Hannah on December 5, 2009 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Now, those of us who've watched Perino over the years know that the poor thing is a few watts short of a light bulb. But, again, her larger point about perceptions is rather sound -- what's real matters less than what's believed.


Excellent patronizing insult pseudo-compliment combo. That'll put the thing in it's place.
It would appear that she is not the only one a few watts short.

Posted by: thebewilderness on December 5, 2009 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

According to Perino there were no terrorist attacks in America during Bush's administration, so people should definitely believe what she says.

Posted by: Notorious P.A.T. on December 5, 2009 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

I'd say Perino is one of the few press secretaries that seemed to be chosen for her looks and not her ability to think quickly on her feet. (GOP's version of affirmative action-- hey, let's choose a dame this time, any looker will suffice.) As much as Ari Fleisher pissed me off, he was amazing at his job, he actually might be one of my favorites after Mike McCurry.

Posted by: zoe kentucky on December 5, 2009 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget. Perception plays a big role in the economy. There was no reason for the banks to stop lending after the government stepped in, but they did it anyway.

At least Perino used to be cute when she was younger.

Posted by: MNPundit on December 5, 2009 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget. Perception plays a big role in the economy. There was no reason for the banks to stop lending after the government stepped in, but they did it anyway.

Which is exactly why the GOP is going to shit all over any signs of recovery in the next 11 months- it's entirely predictable. (They'll say it's not enough, that it had nothing to do with anything Obama or the dems have done, that it was the result of Bush last acts, etc.) If the dems are able to strategize (cough, cough) then they can easily paint the GOP as cheering for economic failure for political gain.

Posted by: zoe kentucky on December 5, 2009 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Let us not ignore that fact that on November 19, the Obama Administration nominated this real blond (who recently announced that no terrorist attacks had taken place on the homeland during the Bush administration) to the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

W.T.F.????

Posted by: Larry McD on December 5, 2009 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

One other thing that the conservatives keep saying. "Only private industry jobs are productive. Government creates nothing."

By this logic a professor at Harvard or BYU is productive, but a professor at the University of Texas or University of California is not.

A private company that puts out fires is productive. A city fireman is not.

A private contractor repairing or building a road or highway is productive. Someone who does the same job but is working for the government is not.

Someone cutting off health insurance clients or canceling health policies for Aetna is productive. Someone processing claims for Medicare is not productive.

In short, your work effort is productive only if your paycheck comes from private sources. Somehow the same work performed for a government paycheck is not productive. Waht you do does not matter. Only the source of your paycheck determines if you are productive -- unless, of course, you can get a contract from the government like KBR in Iraq.

Posted by: Rick B on December 5, 2009 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

And, of course, Obama nominated Dana Perino to the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Excuse me, but what's O's problem? It's a bipartisan board, but couldn't he have found someone a little less indoctrinated? Here's what the Board of Governors does:

"The BBG administers overseas media outlets like Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Asia. Created in 1994, the agency "works to serve as an example of a free and professional press," according to its Web site. It is funded by taxpayers and had a budget of $717.4 million in 2009. [Politics Daily]"

So we're paying her salary!!!

Posted by: nepeta on December 5, 2009 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

"what's real matters less than what's believed."

Is that the Bush Doctrine?

Seems to me to be a "Bingo" in Amurika?

Posted by: Sarah Barracuda on December 5, 2009 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

you can tell the stimulus isnt working..

by all the republicans having their picture taken with large stimulus checks being handed out in their districts..

Posted by: mr. irony on December 5, 2009 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Rick paraphrases the Rs: In short, your work effort is productive only if your paycheck comes from private sources.
~~~
That seems to be what the Republican'ts are saying. Which means they themselves are not productive. Which is true at the current time.

My dad and my mother-in-law were also not productive, I guess. One is retired after working his entire career (after leaving the Army, also not productive) for the federal government and the other is retired after working her entire career for a major US city.

Good job insulting government workers, Rs!

Posted by: Me on December 5, 2009 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Dana, please don't procreate (look it up)!

Posted by: Don on December 5, 2009 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

"In other words, it doesn't matter what's true -- it matters whether people can be misled into believing things that aren't true." Steve Benen

And just where have you been for the past three decades? That's all that the Republicans have done since St. Ronnie of the Tressame Tresses*. They have to lie; noone would vote for them otherwise.
*no way was that color real!

Posted by: Doug on December 5, 2009 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Dana Perino is the proverbial "dumb blonde." Was only selected for her looks. I have Barbie dolls that are smarter than she is. Between her and Sarah Palin representing American women, we are in a load of trouble. The women's movement has been set back at least 50 years with these two in the limelight.

Posted by: Bonnie on December 5, 2009 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

From the BLS Friday release:
"Last month, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) rose by 293,000 to 5.9 million. The percentage of unemployed persons jobless for 27 weeks or more increased by 2.7 percentage points to 38.3 percent."

The 600K to 1.2M jobs saved or created are absolutely unverifiable Romer/BS. The claim touted was full of more caveats and hedges than a BigTen stadium full of used car salesmen (or an Ivy League Econ department confab).

The construction sector lost 27,000 jobs last month, and has lost jobs every month since the stimulus was enacted. Manufacturing employment fell by 41,000.

Recovery.gov (!!!) shows $10M (including $5M for the city school district) spent in Allentown, PA, with zero jobs "saved or created." Zed, Nada, {empty set}.

Here in Albany my state has run through basically all of their Medicaid and education Fed/Stim money and Gov Patterson is still $3.8 billion short. Pittance went to the private sector. Also, pathetically, the only NY/VT bridge across the Champlain to GreenHowardDeanLand is "shovel ready," and closed; with NO future prospects of replacement or repair.

The Friday numbers are encouraging in terms of maybe, big maybe, the private economy is picking itself -- all by itself -- up off the floor, but not because of the stim "multiplier" fantasies of the delusional Krugmanistas. And despite a deficit that cuts private sector lending off at the hip, much less the knees.

Your reality sounds like a trip with Hunter Thompson.

Posted by: tao9 on December 5, 2009 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

I would respectfully suggest that she was chosen for her loyalty and her extraordinary ability to lie with a straight face.

There are lots of people chosen as media propagandists for just those reasons.
But hey, why insult her for what she actually does when you can go the customary misogyny route.

Posted by: thebewilderness on December 5, 2009 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder why the government just didn't give a $10,000 housing rebate or voucher to every home owner in America instead of giving it to the banks. It would have caught up nearly all of the mortgages in the country, stopped the foreclosure mess and been a heck of a lot cheaper.


Posted by: aline on December 5, 2009 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

We know the stimulus has been effective in rescuing the economy from collapse; we know the stimulus has helped create as many as 1.6 million jobs; we know the stimulus has produced economic growth for the first time in a year; and we know that if we'd listened to Republicans at the height of the crisis, there'd be no talk of recovery.

What a load of horse manure....where the heck are you getting your data. The only jobs saves are in the banking industry.

Posted by: middle class and screwed on December 5, 2009 at 10:36 PM | PERMALINK
What a load of horse manure....where the heck are you getting your data

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, along with every other economist who has actually looked at the facts, which is why we can say with absolute certainty that you ant tao9 are full of shit.

Posted by: PaulB on December 5, 2009 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

Paul B:

Doesn't the range of 600,000 give you a clue that the claim might have some, say, slack. How about the fact that the "create/save" faith-based economic category has never existed in the discipline until Romer et.al. made it up.

Cite in the CBO report the language that says, with certainty and without qualifiers as to the actual "create/save" epiphenomenon, the hard numbers.

You can't. Now get off to that Santaria thing you go to on Sunday mornings.

Posted by: tao9 on December 6, 2009 at 8:58 AM | PERMALINK

It is an integral part of economics, indeed of decision making in general, that we must refer to "what would have happened" if action Y had been taken instead of action X. Otherwise you can't even justify actions like lowering interest rates. You couldn't even say, "We lowered interest rates because otherwise the economy would have faltered, jobs *would have been lost* [and are therefore "saved" by lowering the rate] etc. Only idiots and deliberate deceivers promote otherwise.

tyrannogenius

Posted by: tyrannogenius on December 6, 2009 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

But remember, the republicans in every state are taking crdit for the thing that the stimulus is doing.

Posted by: Sammy on December 6, 2009 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

No, it hasn't "created" 1.6 million jobs, it has "saved or created" them, nearly all saved. Which is good in and of itself, for sure. But there have been huge net job losses every month for over a year now, except last month which was nearly a wash. It's good when people who might otherwise have been laid off are kept on the payroll, but let's not go around making a parody of the 'good news' we're trying to spread here, eh? It has been a very long time since this economy created any jobs in a real sense.

Posted by: onceler on December 7, 2009 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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