Political Animal


September 02, 2011 9:45 AM GOP leaders stop taking credit for job data

By Steve Benen

When the jobs reports were looking quite good in the early spring, Republican leaders were eager to take credit for the positive numbers they had nothing to do with. After all, as far as GOP officials were concerned, their mere presence in the House majority was enough to inspire job creators everywhere.

But if Republicans demanded credit for the job totals in the spring, these same Republicans are desperate to avoid blame for job totals in the summer. It’s a nice little scam Republicans have put together: when more jobs are being created, it’s proof they’re right; when fewer jobs are being created, it’s proof Democrats are wrong.

Heads they win; tails Obama loses.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), in an apparent attempt at self-parody, said this morning that “private-sector job growth continues to be undermined,” at least in part, by the “threat of higher taxes.” Seriously, that’s what he said. The very idea that someone, somewhere, might at some time might be asked some additional amount in taxes is enough to undermine job growth.

I can only hope the Speaker doesn’t actually believe his own dumb rhetoric.

Regardless, following up on a little exercise from July, let’s play the game in a way Boehner might like, using Republican rules. Here’s a chart showing private-sector job creation in the latter half of 2010, when stimulus money was still being spent, and when Democrats enjoyed the congressional majority.

And here’s a chart showing private-sector job creation so far in 2011, after stimulus spending largely ended, Republicans took control of the U.S. House and most of the nation’s gubernatorial offices, and the national discourse pivoted from jobs to the deficit and debt.

Now, I certainly know better than to make a post-hoc-ergo-propter hoc mistake, but I wonder if the Speaker would be kind enough to consider the trends. The “threat of higher taxes” existed last year, as did Democratic regulatory enforcement, and a large deficit. And yet, job growth improved. Then Republicans took office.

I can appreciate why the GOP wouldn’t want the blame, even though it’s conservative policies standing in the way of improving the economy. But if Republicans want to claim credit for the job market in April, they should expect responsibility for the same job market in September.

Update: Kevin Park took this a little further, showing the larger trends since 2001. It’s a terrific visual, especially when one notices how much the public sector grew under Bush.

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
  • Ted on September 02, 2011 9:51 AM:

    Did you need kneepads to write this?

  • Josef K on September 02, 2011 10:00 AM:

    I can only hope the Speaker doesn’t actually believe his own dumb rhetoric.

    The better question: is the Speaker smart enough to know he's lying here.

    I'm not convinced he is.

  • Bob O'REilly on September 02, 2011 10:01 AM:

    Hate to pick nits but from what I can see the scale on the two graphs are very different. The blue one starts at 0, and then goes up in 20 K increments. The red one starts at 0 and goes up in 50K increments. TO be fair you need have the scales the same for the on the Y axis fro both charts.

  • Polijay on September 02, 2011 10:11 AM:

    The contrast to how brutally angry some were when unemployment was 5% and now how excuses are made for a president who has a consistent unemployment of 9% should embarrass the progressives but it doesn't.

    The president needs to act like a man and take the lead. Whine about GWB all day long but fix the problem. The weakness he has on display is shameful - almost as shameful as the people who claim he is opposed because he is black.

  • c u n d gulag on September 02, 2011 10:17 AM:

    Republicans can say whatever they want, there's no penalty for lying.

    Our MSM members twist themselves into pretzels not to critisize them, because, then they'd be labelled as "Liberal" and their careers would be over.

    And, as the ship sinks, the band plays on and on...

  • sick-n-effn-tired. on September 02, 2011 10:22 AM:

    There are enough idiots in this country to go around. I heard some supposedly intelligent people on Mourning Joe (I know before the snark starts)tell me we need to revive the housing market to get the economy moving. I hear this everywhere including my local county here in Central (pushed by suppliers and builders alike)Florida as if it was some magic elixir that will suddenly make all well. They ALL miss the big picture . The Republican and Big Bidness efforts to disenfranchise unions create a permanent underclass has made this situation . What part of minimum wage people can't afford to buy houses don't they get. If people were making a living wage maybe they could afford to buy houses and then revive the economy. We need a massive influx of stimulus to start the ball rolling. People with money buy stuff and allow businesses to thrive or is that too elementary for this collection of idiots in Washington?
    They also parrot the line that the "President" has not created any jobs.
    The last time I checked he cannot enact legislation , that is the job of both houses that have spent the last 2 years peering up women's skirts and prying into bedrooms calling it governing .
    Sick-N-Effin Tired indeed

  • Josef K on September 02, 2011 10:25 AM:

    From Polijay @10:11am:

    The president needs to act like a man and take the lead. Whine about GWB all day long but fix the problem.

    There's acting like a man, and acting like a dictator.

    There are a host of legal and systemic limits on the President's power we have to keep in mind, none the least of which is that he literally can't write and pass laws all on his own. That power rests expressly with Congress, and the internal dynamics and procedures of both chambers right now make it impossible to actually do that.

    And before you start calling me an Obamabot or whatever, I'm simply acknowledging the reality of our established government. I'm not excusing the President for his behavior or chosen methods, neither of which are much for actual governing. But neither do I blame him alone for the current situation.

    He can't magically turn everything around any more than I can; the Constitution doesn't give him that kind of power. But I do agree we need to see real leadership now, and I've no confidence he can provide it.

    Worse, the ultimate question in this election may boil down to "Perry will be a terrible President and destroy my livelihood, but why vote for someone who won't fight for me and allow my livelihood to be destroyed anyway?"

    I wish I had an answer.

  • Holly W on September 02, 2011 10:30 AM:

    Obama wasn't to blame for the continued staggering job losses in first three months right after he first took over before his policies could have had a chance to have any effect. And Republican tripping up of the recovery didn't really take off until April 2011 when they passed their first austerity budget under their threat to shutdown the government.

  • DAY on September 02, 2011 10:31 AM:

    Taxes don't got nuttin' to do wi't job creation.
    10 years ago I had 2 employees. Today it is just me.
    As soon as too many customers for me handle show up, I will once again have employees.
    If that puts me in a higher tax bracket, in the words of The Boner, "So be it!"

  • Anonymous on September 02, 2011 10:50 AM:

    This just in: Obama revokes EPA standards. If anybody needs anymore indication about what Obama is, I don't know what would convince you:


    Sad. Pathetic.

    Given the WH just told the NYT that it's going small on jobs, I can't imagine anybody needs more information about how damned this clueless the Administration is about the world it lives in.

  • square1 on September 02, 2011 10:52 AM:

    I am shocked -- shocked, shocked!! -- that these dastardly politicians would take credit for good news while blaming political opponents for bad news.

    This is almost as upsetting as when I found out that professional athletes will often become apoplectic over fouls committed by their opponents while refusing to admit their own transgressions.

    It is almost like success has many fathers but failure is an orphan.

  • nemisten on September 02, 2011 10:55 AM:

    I've given up trying to figure out if Boner is lying or stupid. He's an actor -- a puppet -- reading from the puppetmaster's script.

    And whether it's full of lies (which it usually is) or stupidity (also usually) is unimportant to him. It's what he and all GOPers must say to push their agenda.

    Just wish Dem's would call out the BS.

  • I like It on September 02, 2011 11:16 AM:

    I like it how the trolls are so quick to regurgitate the tired old talking point about Obama failing; Obama is the reason the country is failing.

    Well, since football season is coming up, why not look at it this way? If a team does poorly does it make sense to blame the quarterback?

    Sure the QB can make a mistake or two but expecting him to win the game single handedly is stupid. Moreover, when a QB goes all superstar and mavericky, then everyone hates to poor SOB for being a hotdog.

    In conclusion, blaming Obama is basically the same behavior all those pathetic armchair quarterbacks and Monday morning football experts love to get into. And we all know how obnoxious and lame that is.

  • yellowdog on September 02, 2011 11:51 AM:

    Federal regulator is suing mortgage banks! Good news!

  • Schtick on September 02, 2011 12:13 PM:

    It appears if those charts were done in the exact same way the republican chart would look better overall. My eyes aren't so good anymore, but those numbers on the left seem to favor repubs.

    crapcha....sitiate box....ate a box? really?

  • Julia on September 05, 2011 2:50 PM:

    To Bob O'REilly:

    The numbers are the same, whether in increments of 20K or 50K. The only thing that would change, if the axes were the same, is the size of the graphic. :)

  • norman_Rorqual on September 07, 2011 6:04 PM:

    Just when I'm completely fed up with the conservatives for their lies, I have to come across a big liberal lie like this and make me lose faith in everybody. The scales on the charts are different. They're shrunk so small you're not supposed to be able to see it, but it's still readable. What the graphs ACTUALLY show is that job growth had a huge spike when the Repubs took office, then slowly decreased to about what it was with the Democrats. The last full-size bar on the red graph (before the tiny one) is actually just as high as the highest bar on the blue graph.

    That doesn't look like a trend to me. That's called lying. Imagine how angry you'd be if (okay, when) Glen Beck does something like this.