Political Animal


June 14, 2011 3:55 PM Those desperate to turn back the clock

By Steve Benen

Early on in last night’s debate, Mitt Romney once again argued that President Obama “didn’t create the recession, but he made it worse and longer,” a claim so absurd it’s distressing that the former governor can say it with a straight face.

The assertion is, however, accepted as fact in GOP circles. CNN moderator John King noted at one point, “You’re all here saying the president of the United States is making the economy worse. Has he done one thing right when it comes to the economy in this country?” The audience laughed, and Ron Paul replied, “No, I can’t think of anything.”

Part of the problem here is that Republicans appear to be stuck in a pre-recession mentality. Jared Bernstein explained today that GOP leaders continue to support “the very agenda that got us into this mess.” He added this very helpful chart showing average monthly job losses and gains from the quarter the president took office to the most recent quarter of 2011.

Bernstein added, “Back in early 2009, we were losing jobs at a rate the likes of which I’d never seen — 780,000 per month — 2.3 million jobs lost in the first quarter. Over the past quarter, we’ve been adding jobs at a rate of 160,000 per month (and that includes last month’s disappointing 54K gain). Readers of this blog know that I don’t think that’s good enough. I and others are actively agitating to do more to build on this progress. But let us not forget where we were.”

If Mitt Romney, in his infinite wisdom, can look at this and explain why the right side of the chart is “worse” than the left side, I’m all ears.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • c u n d gulag on June 14, 2011 4:02 PM:

    To channel Al:

    Oh, Steve,
    You Liberals with your fancy, liberal, elite, charts, and graphs and figures.

    Well, we have our own fact and figures – and who’s to say we can’t have them?

    They “feel” right to us.

  • Anthony Damiani on June 14, 2011 4:06 PM:

    Don't get me wrong, Romney is peddling bad policy and distorting Obama's record. But when you say someone's made a recession worse and deeper, you aren't necessarily saying Obama came in with 780k job loss/month and turned int into a million. You could credibly claim that fewer jobs could have been lost if he had acted sooner, or that many more jobs could have been regained (and more quickly)-- if, for example, he'd deployed the appropriate level of stimulus.

  • rob on June 14, 2011 4:07 PM:

    "Ron Paul". Never trust or believe anyone with two first names and no last name.

    "Part of the problem here is that Republicans appear to be stuck in a pre-recession mentality."

    Actually most of the problem here is that the republicans, if you take them at their word, are stuck in the late 19th century. Personally, I think they would announce tomorrow for 5 year plans, one party rule and the dictatorship of the proletariat if the banksters and the rest of the plutocracy told them to.

  • NHCt on June 14, 2011 4:15 PM:

    Isn't it just the same as Clinton slamming Bush over a recession that had already ended in '92? Romney has no interest in making a policy argument, merely a political one. And as such, it's dangerous. If you're feeling pessimistic over the economy, which would you prefer: The knowledge that recoveries after financial panics are slower and weaker than regular recessions, or the belief everything is the fault of the incumbent?

  • zeitgeist on June 14, 2011 4:17 PM:

    Romney will never have to answer that graph, Steve, unless and until our side makes sure every voter is familiar with that graph. Our side's lack of messaging gives Romeny et al a huge pass.

    rob, I have to think your last comment is correct, and worse yet the "conservatives" probably wouldn't even get the irony. at the NH debate last night, one of them (T-Paw, I think) was complaining that Obama hadn't done anything to help keep a manufactoring base - that an industrial base was important, yet Obama had no policy to address it.

    He came soooooo close to actually saying the term "industrial policy." Listening to allegedly Austrian-school economic libertarians bash Obama for a lack of central planning is a scream. And the best part is they don't get it at all. Its all just word salad to them.

  • Holmes on June 14, 2011 4:24 PM:

    This gets back to the Ryan problem. The media won't call Ryan on his bullshit and I doubt they will call Romeny on his. Hell, fact checkers like WaPo's Kessler, who are purportedly experts, are still covering for Ryan on his medicare plan, despite all evidence that his plan eliminates Medicare as we know it.

    The media has to arbitrarily elevate republicans to maintain the pretense of objectivity. In reality, they are just avoiding any accountability for telling the truth.

    This is Rome part deux.

  • T2 on June 14, 2011 4:33 PM:

    they don't have to explain any charts, or any lies. That is the reason a "journalist" like John King is there.....to say "Hey, Mitt, that is a completely false statement".
    Of course, King is not a real journalist, just a "broadcaster". The problem, as we found out with George W. Bush, is that if candidates are willing to like with a straight face to get the presidency, they'll continue to do so when they are president.
    By they way, if you think Romney is a liar, wait until you meet Rick Perry.

  • emjayay on June 14, 2011 4:35 PM:

    I suspect that all the other candidates in the debate drank the koolaid (OK, I mean they are stupid ideologues) while Romney is simply a politically motivated liar.

  • T22 on June 14, 2011 4:35 PM:

    ugh...I meant - lie with a straight face - you probably got the drift anyway

  • emjayay on June 14, 2011 4:39 PM:

    Rick Perry is a stupid ideologue AND a liar.

  • Mitch on June 14, 2011 4:40 PM:


    "Never trust or believe anyone with two first names and no last name."

    The only double first-namer that I trust is Bruce Wayne. Too bad Batman is fictional . . . just like the Republican idealogy is fictional . . .

    And how about people with a fictional first name and a first name for a last name; that's can'tbe a good thing. *ahem* "Rand" Paul anyone? Sometimes the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree, and sometimes the fruit is even worse than the tree.

  • Doug on June 14, 2011 4:41 PM:

    I've heard several posters state how hard it would be for President Obama to try and run on a platform of "It would have been worse..." because he wouldn't have anything real to back up those claims.
    Now the Republicans are trying to do exactly that by running on a platform that says Obama's actions made the recession worse when the all the facts available prove the opposite? And they're topping it off by only offering more of the policies that caused the recession as the antidote? The US electorate can be short-sighted, gullible and occasionally suffer from a form of political Alzheimer's, but they're not THAT dumb!
    In 2010 Republican/Teabaggers ran, and won, on platforms to protect Medicare and create jobs. They've done exactly the opposite and apparently are planning on continuing down the same path up to the 2012 elections.
    This is NOT good news for McCain...

  • Mr. Serf Man on June 14, 2011 4:48 PM:

    One thing that baffles me completely . Exactly how is this classified as a debate? A bunch of people standing around telling us how bad Obama is does not constitute a debate. A debate is something wherein people with opposing points of view... you know ...debate the merits of their position.

    Bitch session maybe .

  • Old Uncle Dave on June 14, 2011 5:16 PM:

    They call it a debate because if they were honest and called it a group press conference, they wouldn't get as many viewers.

  • dj spellchecka on June 14, 2011 5:40 PM:

    here's how the consistently dishonest kevin dewine is spinning the numbers, "In the 28 months since the stimulus was passed, unemployment has increased 25%..."

    he ignores that the job losses were still happening when the bill was passed and uses the percentage of increase rather than the real figures..

  • Anonymous on June 14, 2011 6:11 PM:

    When all this ridiculous fluff is past and the real presidential debates begin, presumably Obama will knock all that lying codswallop for six. If the Dems don't mess it up it should be a massacre. Pity we have to wait so long.

  • kuck3putt on June 14, 2011 8:18 PM:

    Isn't the notion of Obama making the recession worse reminiscent of claims that FDR prolonged the Great Depression? Which comes first: ideology, or the inclination to filter out all facts that might contribute to seeing things clearly?

  • Dutchgirl on June 15, 2011 2:34 AM:

    Romney fixed: Obama "didn’t create the recession, but he made it worse and longer than it would have been if fairies and unicorns existed"

    See, now it makes sense.

  • mcc on June 16, 2011 5:49 PM:

    "Mitt Romney is supposed to be so data-driven. Why is he getting the wrong information about the economy under Obama? By Steve Benen 06/15/2011"

    You post this as your summary for the article, as if

    1. There's anyone who reads your website but doesn't respond to that question with "he doesn't have wrong information, he's just lying"

    2. There's anyone who reads your website and doesn't believe that Steve Benen's personal answer to that question is "he doesn't have wrong information, he's just lying"