The February jobs report came out yesterday and, if the conservative echo chamber is to be believed, represented a monumental against-all-odds accomplishment for the Republican/Tea Party in the face of liberal attempts to destroy America by making sure everyone can afford to visit a doctor when they get sick. It was a win that richly deserved the kind of overenthusiastic giggling fits and and limitless adolescent celebrations typically reserved for thirteen-year-old girls at a Justin Beiber concert.
Sarcastic emoticons and exclamation points were abused in great abundance, much to the dismay of those who continue to mourn the slow death of intellectual honesty generally, and the English language specifically.
Alas, we all knew this day was coming sooner rather than later.
In a fit of rotten luck that was surely the result of a liberal/socialist/Kenya/Hitler conspiracy that will be chronicled in great detail on a chalkboard somewhere very uncomfortable (no, not the back of a Volkswagen), the January jobs report came out weeks before the GOP officially took control of the House of Representatives, denying them an early victory lap.
Attributing the good news to people who were powerless at the time would have required logic and spin so tortured that it would be remembered throughout the living history of mankind as the truest, most beautiful tribute to Sarah Palin ever imaged – and quite possibly have required time travel.
The first opportunity for Republicans to take credit for something they had no hand in – and ironically worked hard to prevent -- was yesterday afternoon, and naturally they weren't about to let an unearned chance to gloat slip by.
"Thank You Republicans and Tea Party!!!", said one particularly confused individual. "You're working on doing what you promised, after less than 2 months in office." With conservatives not being well known for being constrained by reality or ethics, she continued: "..the job creation is not a continuation either."
Why would anyone make such a statement? Could it be that some people might make the honest mistake of concluding that five consecutive months of job growth were in some way...related?
I suppose the 63,000 private sector jobs created in January didn't count as "continuation". Such a big word, that one. I bet liberals just made that up to confuse conservatives living in "real America". I mean just look at all those letters.
Then again, it probably just meant that when Republicans regain power in the federal government, it's time to rewrite not just the laws they don't like (fuck their constituents want, unless it's AT&T or Blue Cross), but also the country's history that doesn't support their world view.
In reality, the American economy has been adding private sector jobs for five straight months, dating back to October of 2010. 672,000 jobs have been created since then, and another 769,000 were created between January of 2010 and July of last year.
In the mind of at least one conservative that was jubilant about the February report, five straight months of job creation "is not a continuation", whatever that word means.
Alright, fair enough. Clearly the 672,000 jobs created between October of 2010 and January of 2011 were all the result of the business community's rising confidence that the GOP would retake power in Congress... some day.
What about the unemployment rate, though? It's "down to 8.9%!!!" the conservatives in their Palin-red pajamas and oversized "don't tread on Exxon and Goldman Sachs!!!" signs screamed at the top of their lungs.
Sounds like good news, but is it?
Fox News didn't think so, at least back when Republicans were still in the Congressional minority. When news broke that the economy added 63,000 jobs in January and the unemployment rate dropped from 9.4% to 9% (over four times as much as it later drop in February), John Lott called the job numbers "bleak" and noted that the unemployment rate only dropped "only because Americans have given up looking for work in record numbers."
With political capitol to gain and chests to beat, conservatives changed their tune mighty quickly. A drop of 0.4% in January was bleak, but a drop of 0.1% in February is worthy of not one, but at least three exclamation points. When unemployment drops while Democrats control the government, it's because "Americans have given up looking for work in record numbers." But once Republicans control a single chamber for a single month, it's fantastic news, and conservatives feel comfortable trotting out stats like this: "[i]n the three months since the election in November 2010, the unemployment rate has dropped more than in any three month period since 1983."
After the mid-term elections in which Republicans teabagged Democrats (largely in districts that Democrats had captured from Republicans in 2006 and 2008, ironically and perhaps tellingly), unemployment dropped to 9.4% in December, 9% in January, and 8.9% in February. We don't count November since the election occurred at the tale end of the month, for the same reason even Republicans didn't have the balls to try to claim January too.
That's only a .5% drop, with 80% of it coming before Republicans officially took control of the House. And of course it completely discounts the 0.6% drop from October of 2009 through July of 2010. It took longer, but it was a larger drop, and part of an overall trend that has seen unemployment drop 1.1% while Democrats still controlled Congress.
With a split Congress, the drop is 0.1%.
Put simpler, narrower terms: when the unemployment rate drops 0.4% in January and Democrats control the government, that's bad.
When unemployment has "dropped more than in any three month period" – including January – and the GOP gained control of 1/3rd the government for about 30 days, that's good.
During that period when Democrats controlled Congress and unemployment dropped 1.1%, the economy added nearly 1.4 million new jobs.
Republicans I'm sure would love for you to ignore the 13 months of job creation out of the last 16 since they had nothing to do with any of it. They'd also like you to believe that they are largely responsible for the jobs in February.
But what about that claim? Democrats can make a reasonable case that the ARRA was responsible for creating those 1.4 million jobs, and lowing unemployment from 10.1% to 8.9%, since ARRA spending almost perfectly aligns with the job growth we've seen. At the very least there is evidence worthy of legitimate debate on the matter.
Do Republicans have anything to point to to substantiate their claim to the 192,000 jobs created in February and the 0.1% drop in unemployment?
Ignoring for now the fact that Republicans all across the country consistently and with a near unanimous voice, repeatedly claimed all throughout 2009 and 2010 that the federal government was physically incapable of creating jobs – remember, only businesses can create jobs. What laws could the GOP have possibly passed in the House in the span of less than a month that also passed the Democratic-controlled Senate and was signed into law by President Obama that created all those jobs and lowered the unemployment rate?
The answer, unsurprisingly, is none. Consistent with right-wing rhetoric that the government can't (not won't, but can't) create jobs, the Republican House didn't write, much less pass, a single jobs-related bill in January or February and doesn't appear to have any planned for March, either. If government can't create jobs, then the proper action is inaction – for the GOP to sit on its ass and literally do nothing. In that case, how can the GOP take credit for doing nothing?
Republicans were busy trying to make new laws, obviously. But if jobs were a top priority for the resurgent GOP, you couldn't tell based on their early agenda.
H.R. 1 was a spending bill to keep the federal government from shutting down (needed because Republicans in the minority blocked last year's spending bill for FY2011 from passing.)
H.R.2 was petulantly named the "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act". Despite the inflammatory title, the chief economist for Moody's (a corporate finance firm not exactly known for shilling for Democratic policies) found that H.R.2 would "reduce 2011 real GDP growth by 0.5%" which would mean "some 400,000 fewer jobs created by the end of 2011 and 700,000 fewer jobs by the end of 2012".
That analyst, Mark Zandi, served on the advisory committee of economists for John McCain's 2008 Presidential campaign. We're hardly talking about a left-wing academic or supporter of the Obama administration, and he thought this GOP bill to repeal a "Job-Killing Health Care Law" would itself end up killing 700,000 jobs.
H.R. 3, the third bill written and introduced to the newly GOP-controlled House, was the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" which attempted to redefine rape at one point, and would still remove exemptions for women seeking federal funds to pay for an abortion for a pregnancy that was the result of incest and sexual molestation.
Other things House Republicans have done since taking power in January include voting to increase defense spending by at least $183 billion dollars (I suppose that might create a few jobs for Boeing and the like, which contributed heavily to the GOP during the 2010 mid-term elections as did the entire defense industry – as it always does), and to stop Democratic attempts to cut $53 billion in federal subsidies to Exxon Mobile and Shell, two of the world's richest and most profitable oil companies.
The picture, then, is indisputably clear. The economy has been creating jobs ever since the stimulus spending kicked in, in late 2009, with the bulk of it to be spent in 2010. The unemployment rate came down from 10.1% in 2009 to 9% in January (-1.1%), and of course -0.1% in the month that Republicans are trying to take credit for.
With Democrats controlling Congress and the White House: +1,400,000 million jobs, -1.1% unemployment.
With Republicans controlling the House, and Dems the rest: +192,000 jobs, -0.1% unemployment.
With Democrats controlling Congress: Passed the ARRA whose spending perfectly coincides with positive GDP, job growth, and falling unemployment, along with multiple extensions of unemployment benefits and several bills meant to benefit small businesses (including tax breaks) to get them to start hiring more people (the GOP voted against all of that).
With Republicans controlling only the House for ~30 days: Tried to pass restrictions on federal funding for abortions, protected $52 billion in handouts for massive multinational oil conglomerates, and tried to repeal health care reform which John McCain's economics adviser said would cause a loss of up to 700,000 jobs.
There's something to be said for people who are too busy to inform themselves on the facts. In this day, it's actually pretty understandable. But there's also something to be said about this chronic stupidity and dishonesty, and yesterday we saw a whole lot of the latter from American conservatives – more than we've seen in quite some time. And we're likely to see a lot more of it as the year wears on.
It's intellectually dishonest and fundamentally unreasonable to claim that government can't create jobs, that the GOP created jobs with government, all while not being able to point to a single law passed by Republicans (and passed by the Senate, signed into law, and had a concrete affect on the country in less than 30 days) that resulted in anything we saw in February.
Hubris doesn't even begin to cover what we all saw yesterday. Ignorance as an excuse only goes so far. Lying for political gain only goes so far. At some point we have to acknowledge that certain people and groups of people in this country have no discernible morals or ethics, and a significant number of those people are so ignorant of reality that they are – at the risk of exposing myself to boohooing over name calling – simply stupid and deluded individuals that don't really deserve the fruits of the hard work of people who have actually been busting their asses for two years to create some jobs in this country.
So no, folks. Republicans had nothing to do with the 192,000 jobs created in February, just like they had nothing to do with the 63,000 jobs created in January, or the 152,000 jobs created in December, or the 93,000 jobs in November, or the 172,000 jobs in October.
It defies common sense to claim otherwise, and anyone that tries is either demonstrably ignorant of the facts, or a bald faced liar.
That's all there is to it anymore.
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