What Everyone Knows About the Economy That Just Ain’t So

Chuck ToddMy business partner Will is more courageous than I am: he actually watches the Sunday morning political shows. And he mentioned to me that yesterday on Meet the Press, there was some Republican ranting about how slow the recovery was. (It was most likely Reince Priebus.) This immediately got me hyperventilating. This is the reason I don’t watch these shows. Claims like this are made and then Chuck Todd (or whoever happens to be manning the spot) just lets it go by. If a Republican says the economy is doing poorly and it is the Democrats’ fault, who is Todd to follow it up with a question that took into account, you know, the facts?

For example, Todd could have said, “It’s true that the economy is improving very slowly. But isn’t this mostly because the government has actually cut spending, while Republicans have always greatly increased spending after recessions?” It really annoys me that such things are never said. Politicians can come on these nationally televised shows and spout whatever nonsense they want without the slightest concern that they will be countered.

Here is the perfect graph from a great article last year by Kevin Drum, It’s the Austerity, Stupid: How We Were Sold an Economy-Killing Lie:

Government Spending After Recessions

Does this surprise you? Regular readers will not be surprised, but doubtless the vast majority of Americans would be. And so would Chuck Todd. Because it is just “common sense” that Obama has exploded the federal budget. The truth is that the federal government’s spending has gone up a bit, but this has been more than offset by the great decrease in state and local government spending. But here’s the point: Republicans have always known that the federal government has to really increase spending after a recession. So their focus on cutting spending from 2009 onward shows that their intent has been to kill the economy so they could take political advantage to it. This is why it makes me really mad to hear Republicans talk about the poor recovery from this recession.

Paul Krugman dealt with part of this issue today at his blog, Presidents and Jobs. It shows that private sector job growth under Obama has actually been better than it was under Bush. And this is with a huge assist that Bush got in terms of a Congress that spent a whole lot more money to stimulate the economy.

And also today, Ezra Klein wrote, This Chart Proves the Economy Is Actually, Really, Finally Getting Better. And this is the chart:

Job Growth by Year

Of course, let’s not start dancing in the streets. As Dean Baker would point out if he were writing this article, adding 250,000 per month is good but it isn’t great. And given how many jobs were lost after the financial crisis of 2008, we really do need to be doing better. But the fact remains that the speed of job growth continues to increase. So things are getting better. And the same Republicans who are complaining that job growth of 250,000 per month is too low were the the same ones who were trumpeting 150,000 jobs per month as a great thing in 2004 under Bush. Even Bush’s best year was substantially below this year. But here are the facts:

  1. The economy is creating jobs a decent rate.
  2. The reason we haven’t seen better job creation is because of Republican obstruction.

It’s bad enough that Republicans would do everything they can to harm the economy in order to get political advantage. But it is beyond comprehension why the mainstream media would allow them to get away with it and blame it on the Democratic president. In this way NBC is not much different from Fox News.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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