Political Animal


September 13, 2011 8:40 AM Perry was only off by 3.3 million jobs

By Steve Benen

About 10 minutes after taking the oath of office last year, Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) held a press conference, at which he declared the Recovery Act “hasn’t created one new job.” A reporter gave him a chance to clarify, asking, “It didn’t create one new job?” The new senator replied, “That’s correct.” It was the first big hint that the guy isn’t the sharpest crayon in the box.

I thought of this last night, watching this exchange during the debate for Republican presidential candidates.

WOLF BLITZER: Governor Perry, the president in his new plan has a lot of tax cuts, payroll tax cuts, middle-class tax cuts, tax credits for hiring veterans, tax credits for hiring long-term unemployed people. Are those things you would support?

RICK PERRY: And he’s going to pay for them all with raising your taxes. That is the issue. He had $800 billion worth of stimulus in the first round of stimulus. It created zero jobs, $400-plus billion dollars in this package. And I can do the math on that one. Half of zero jobs is going to be zero jobs.

I realize the increasingly-hysterical Republican Party is heavily invested in denouncing the Recovery Act. Indeed, it’s necessary for the integrity of the GOP’s entire worldview to believe the stimulus failed.

But reality doesn’t much care about the sensitivities and philosophical beliefs that undergird modern Republican thought.

President Barack Obama’s stimulus package may have created or saved as many as 3.3 million jobs last quarter and lowered the unemployment rate by as much as 1.8 percentage points, the Congressional Budget Office said.

The Recovery Act immediately improved the American job market and created economic growth where there was none. This isn’t even controversial; it’s just what happened. The stimulus should have been bigger, and we’re not even close to where we need to be, but when Rick Perry says the Recovery Act “created zero jobs,” he’s off by about 3 million.

That said, I do give Perry some credit for thinking about economic impact in a coherent way. The original stimulus in 2009 cost about $825 billion and created as many as 3.3 million jobs. The American Jobs Act would cost about half as much, and independent projections suggest it would create about half as many jobs.

If Perry and his party believe the economy doesn’t need that boost right now, they’re welcome to make their case. But to simply make up nonsense about the Recovery Act isn’t helpful.

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.


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  • Live Free or Die on September 13, 2011 8:52 AM:

    The good thing about this debate is that it is exposing to Texas how psycho Perry is. He does not usually debate Democrats here in Texas. Also, I know this may sound sexist or fatist, but did anybody notice how fat and unattractive most/all of these questioners were? They were disgusting, their dark souls manifesting themselves in the form of a beached whale.

  • c u n d gulag on September 13, 2011 8:52 AM:

    Hey, finally!

    A Republican who knows some math!!!

    'Half of zero is still zero.'

    So, half a Republican Presidential candidate is still a zero.

  • Live Free or Die on September 13, 2011 8:58 AM:

    Where is Polifact and all the other useless fact checkers. Oh yea, thats right. They only rear their heads when a Democrat says "a" instead of "the", to mark a statement false. There were so many lies in that debate, would it have killed Wolf to call them on it once?

  • ckelly on September 13, 2011 8:59 AM:

    But to simply make up nonsense about the Recovery Act isnít helpful.

    Au contraire, it is very helpful to his nomination chances.

    But reality doesnít much care about the sensitivities and philosophical beliefs that undergird modern Republican thought.

    But unfortunately, Republican candidates and voters don't care about reality but rather only ideology.

  • mr. irony on September 13, 2011 9:02 AM:

    gop dumbass economics..

    when unemployment under obama goes from 7.6% to currently 9.1%

    that is a "disaster...


    when unemployment under perry goes from 4.4% in 2000..

    to 8.4% right now...

    that's called a MIRACLE...

  • martin on September 13, 2011 9:03 AM:

    So, by Perry's accounting, tax cuts don't create jobs.

    Good to know.

  • ComradeAnon on September 13, 2011 9:05 AM:

    I imagine there's video of Ricky Bobby Perry announcing new jobs due to... Stimulus Money somewhere.

  • Bobsled on September 13, 2011 9:08 AM:

    "If Perry and his party believe the economy doesnít need that boost right now, theyíre welcome to make their case. But to simply make up nonsense about the Recovery Act isnít helpful."

    Of course it's helpful - helpful for the lying GOP candidates. They know that when you repeat a lie enough, it becomes truth. That is their playbook. (See Death Panels, Obama birth certificate, WMD in Iraq, etc.)

  • T2 on September 13, 2011 9:11 AM:

    in case you've not noticed by now, "making up nonsense" is Rick Perry's profession.

  • T-Rex on September 13, 2011 9:18 AM:

    Of course it's helpful. Saying something over and over may not make it true, but it makes stupid people think it's true.

  • Goldilocks on September 13, 2011 9:21 AM:

    But to simply make up nonsense about the Recovery Act isn't helpful.

    Wrong. It's entirely helpful to Republicans. It's all they have. Without their false, synthetic, fabricated, wonderland reality they won't even make it out the gate.

  • Grumpy on September 13, 2011 9:23 AM:

    Give Perry credit for recognizing that tax cuts have to be paid for with tax increases.

    Or was he even listening to the question?

  • flyonthewall on September 13, 2011 9:23 AM:

    Perry is accusing his constituents of lying and by proxy everyone else who claims stimulus created jobs. Texas recipients of stimulus money reported 45,459.25 jobs created or saved. I would ask Perry to prove his constituents are lying or STFU.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on September 13, 2011 9:27 AM:

    "But reality doesn’t much care about the sensitivities and philosophical beliefs that undergird modern Republican thought."

    But Republican thought -- an oxymoron if there ever was one -- doesn't much care about the limp-wristed concept of reality. Reality has little to inform them on faith and ideology.

  • DAY on September 13, 2011 9:36 AM:

    Evidently, Jerry Springer's audience got tickets to the debate.

    - or WAS that the Jerry Springer Show?

  • Ohioan on September 13, 2011 9:37 AM:

    Dems PR failure goes like this:

    Repubs: "Obama promised 8% unemployment and now it's 9% so stimulus failed and created less than zero jobs!"

    Dems response: "Uh, allow me to get defensive - all of us were wrong about how bad things were. Things would have been worse without the 'actions' we took."

    What should have been the Dems response: "Wrong, Obama promised to create 2 to 4 million jobs, and stimulus created 2 to 4 million jobs. However Bush policies cost us 8 million jobs, so we need to do more."

  • Obee on September 13, 2011 10:01 AM:

    Well, I know for a fact that it created at least one job--my wife's. She's a lecturer teaching university level chemistry and her position was started and paid for by stimulus money. She still has that job today, even though it's no longer being funded by stimulus funds.

  • Grumpy on September 13, 2011 10:02 AM:

    You tell 'em, Ohioan!

  • Jim Pharo on September 13, 2011 11:34 AM:

    It's just about adorable how you think it matters that the GOP-er du jour is simply lying is somehow going to make a lick of difference. Come October, 2012, about half of us will think that while Perry maybe took some liberties with his record in the past, there's no question that he has the strength, the intelligence and the values the nation needs to move forward.

    Plus the other chap it irretrievably black.

    This isn't the United States of Guys with Graduate Degrees.

  • meander on September 13, 2011 12:17 PM:

    I wonder how many members of Congress from Texas got stimulus money for their district and then held a press conference announcing the project and trumpeting that "this new [bridge|rail yard|port project|highway] will bring needed jobs to our district!" Lots of other Congress-critters held ribbon cuttings or sent out press releases heralding the jobs from stimulus programs, so there must be some in Texas.