Home > Economics, Right-Wing Hypocrisy, The Obama Administration > Jobs, Through a Red-tinted Prism

Jobs, Through a Red-tinted Prism

June 6th, 2009

A lot happening, a lot to talk about… but various things to take care of have made it a bit difficult to post over the past several days. Sorry about that.
One interesting point: in an encouraging sign, 345,000 people lost their jobs in May.

It is, of course, encouraging only in the context of 345,000 being way below estimates (the prediction was for 520,000 jobs lost), and May’s numbers showing the lowest job loss numbers in more than six months. As you can see from the chart on the right, there seems to be a trend from January that suggests we are quickly heading out of this recession. If you follow the trend line, we could actually be seeing job growth in three or four months–if the trend line holds or improves.

Is Obama responsible? Well, Obama passes a stimulus bill, and within a month or so job losses slow dramatically and the stock market gains 2000-plus points. Not proof positive, but it’s pretty hard to dismiss.

However, ever since Obama got elected, Republicans have been trying to blame him for anything and everything that smacks of bad news. Seriously, even after he was nominated as the Democratic candidate, Republicans have tried to pin stock market drops on him, as if the traders were going into wild panics at even the thought of Obama maybe becoming president.

And when Obama took office, Republicans took no time at all to go into full-blast blame-Obama mode, despite forgiving Bush for years of bad economic news because it was Clinton’s fault. A few weeks after Obama took office, the market dropped, and that was immediately jumped on. For example, in February, Malkin reached back to a November high to contrast the February low, blaming Obama for the stock market tumble. Even counting from January, when Obama took office, there was an apparent plummet that right-wingers wasted no time in laying at Obama’s doorstep.


Naturally, when the stock market then immediately regained and actually rose above the level it was when Obama took office (just a few weeks after the “ineffective” stimulus bill passed), the same bloggers’ thundering silence was hard to miss.


By the right-wingers’ own standards, Obama should be responsible for the first encouraging upswing since mid-2007. We’re still waiting for their congratulatory praise, their admission that the stimulus bill indeed stimulated the economy. After all, if Bush had gotten such immediate, positive results, the same people would be shouting this from the rooftops–but when Obama pulls off a relative economic miracle, they claim he is an abject failure.

Instead, Bush was supposedly not responsible for the downturn in the market at all–a lie easily proven false when one tracks back to stock market activity before the election. It’s kind of hard to miss the fact that the biggest losses came well into the remains of the Bush administration:


Malkin’s blaming of Obama for a 4-month, 2000-point drop kind of loses significance when one sees Bush suffering a 2,400-point drop in just ten days in October. In fact, the very temporary one-month drop looks insignificant when compared to the market’s activity in the last six or nine months of Bush. And I don’t think that Malkin has yet congratulated Obama for the 800-point rise relative to when he took office.

And let’s not forget that the change in payroll job loss numbers is kind of hard to miss–that the moment Obama took office, the numbers immediately switched from accelerating downward to slowing considerably, pointing to a possible end of the recession with such rapidity that Bush’s faux “recovery” will look ridiculously slow in comparison.

At which point, I have no doubt that the right-wing bloggers would yet again do a 180-degree double-flip-flop and again assert that the previous president’s influence is what should be credited with the economic performance a year or two after the next president takes office–completely ignoring their previous claims that anything after November 2008 was completely Obama’s fault.

As for now, the right-wing blogs are mostly ignoring the encouraging job news altogether. The few wingnut blogs that are talking about May’s job numbers are pretending like the payroll numbers don’t exist or don’t matter, and instead focus on the unemployment numbers, which rose more than expected. From Hot Air:

The unemployment numbers for May hit earlier this morning, and it looks like Barack Obama didn’t save many jobs at all. Despite claims from both Obama and VP Joe Biden that the Porkulus package had saved 150,000 jobs, unemployment went up another half-percent to 9.4%, setting a new record for the past quarter century. … Why is this important? It demonstrates that the President and his economic advisers have gotten pretty much everything about this economic collapse wrong.

Outside the Beltway does mention the job numbers, but only at the end of their post about the unemployment numbers, and only to make the claim that they don’t matter:

Going by the Household Survey the number of unemployed increased by 787,000. This makes this recession as bad as 1957 and not quite as bad as 1948 in terms of unemployment. So despite the very mild good news yesterday about new jobless claims this data more than offsets it.

Even this grasp at painting the worst possible picture is hollow and false. As the NYT Economix blog patiently explains, the reasons for the unemployment numbers rising are not so dire–and may even be encouraging. While some of the number hike is due to the fact that 345,000 lost their jobs–still a loss, despite the great improvement in numbers–another part of the rise in unemployment is due to the fact that a much larger number of people than usual are trying to re-enter the job market. These are people who lost their jobs under Bush and had stayed unemployed for so long, they had dropped off the charts altogether–but now have reappeared because they apparently have new hope that jobs can be found. As for jobs Obama has saved, if you use Bush’s last numbers–700,000-plus jobs lost in January–as a baseline, Obama has saved about three-quarters of a million jobs already. Not that I take that claim seriously, but it conservatively follows the logical pretexts that right-wingers laid down.

So, the May payroll job numbers are about 175,000 jobs better than forecast and show a greatly encouraging trend toward rapid exit from recession, and even the higher unemployment numbers signal widespread confidence that jobs can be found, and people are out there looking for them–but all the right-wingers claim to see is bleak prospects–or nothing at all.

Not surprising.

As I recall, back when Bush was in charge and anyone tried to claim things weren’t going so well, they were accused by the right-wingers of trying to talk down the economy, of trying to make things worse so they could criticize Bush.

And now?

  1. Tim Kane
    June 6th, 2009 at 16:10 | #1

    I’ve yet to see a “total jobs created during George W. Bush’s presendency”.

    At peak he created 5 million jobs. However, many of those jobs were in the public sector – and I mean in the area of 2 million public sector jobs. And that’s not including the private sector jobs created to feed the war machine and its wars.

    So I’m wondering how many net total jobs George W. Bush’s presidency created, how many net private sector jobs and how many net public sector.

    The other thing, is where you draw the line. If he gets credit for January (which he should), then he’s looking at the prospect of not creating any new jobs.

    There is a chance that Bush might luck out and not get credited for January. I wouldn’t be surprise. Georgie has always had good luck at not being held accountable for all the things he has wrecked.

    At the very least he’s looking at the prospect of not creating any net new private sector jobs (especially if January were thrown in).

    Unofficially, he should get credit for February and March, and perhaps even some of April’s as well.

    The reality is, Bush didn’t create any new jobs. He just gave money to the rich while destroying the rest of the nation.

    There was always one prime goal: end the legacy of FDR by destroying the new deal and the mass middle class that FDR created. For all intents, and purposes, mission accomplished.

    The Republican’s entire agenda was to wreck these things. They brought in someone who was uniquely skilled at wrecking things.

  2. Tim Kane
    June 6th, 2009 at 16:18 | #2

    Oh: found these two graphs at the New York Times website on the question I posed above.

    One is a comparison between Bush and Clinton at seven months into their presidency.

    We all know that the eight year of Bush’s presidency was a bust. Bus statistically, how bad was it?



    Given these comparisons, it’s obvious that the ‘liberal press’ is holding back information from the public. From that latter post, there’s almost no contest between Republicans and Democrats at creating jobs. And the most abysmal of all, is the boy blunder, George. W. Bush.

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