In baseball, there are times when no matter how good a hitter is, a pitcher paints the corner with three straight unhittable curve balls for strikes. It is at that point that the hitter tips his cap to the pitcher and walks dejectedly back to the dugout, secure in the knowledge that there was nothing he could do to beat the pitcher at that at bat.
I am in a similar mindset when reading Ezra Klein and Matthew Ygelsias this morning. The have taken spectacularly bad jobs numbers and put such a sweet spin on them that there really is nothing to do but tip your hat to the way they have made sweet potato pie out of horse manure.
Another 143,000 census positions expired, contributing to a total public sector job loss of more than 200,000 jobs. But the private sector continued to recover, adding 71,000 jobs — its best performance since April, and its third-best number this year.
So you can look at the bottom line one of two ways: Either we lost 131,000 jobs, or if you ignore the census jobs, we gained about 10,000. The good news? The 71,000 jobs we did gain came from the right place, and the jobs we lost are job losses we can prevent if Congress finds the will and the votes.
You can also look at it as 71,000 jobs representing about half the total number of jobs that need to be created every single month just to keep pace with new people entering the work force in the private sector. The idea that the private sector is “recovering” is pure spin. If business is only creating half the jobs necessary to take up the slack in new hires, how in God’s name is it going to replace the 8 million jobs lost in this recession? The numbers show we are falling behind, that the recovery is worse than anemic, and that the policies of this president and his party are directly responsible for it.
Last year at this time - 8 months after Obama took office - discouraged workers who stopped looking for work stood at 368,000. Today, that number has climbed to 1.2 million. This did not happen on George Bush’s watch. It is a direct result of the Democrats taking their eye off the ball and pushing national health insurance at the expense of dealing with the jobs situation. While Democrats were arguing with themselves whether or not a public option was needed and how much they should screw over insurance companies, big pharma, and big medicine, the jobs picture went from bad, to worse, to catastrophic.
It was obvious by last summer that the stimulus bill - sold by the president as something that had to be passed immediately and without due consideration because it would help create jobs in the near future - was oversold and a gigantic waste of money at a time the Democratic congress was smashing every deficit record in history. Instead of dropping the health insurance chimera and turning their attention to Americans who were desperate for work, the Democrats pursued the illusion of national health insurance reform, thus condemning this nation to what the Administration is calling “Recovery Summer” - perhaps the most inapt characterization of economic conditions since Roosevelt made “Happy Days are Here Again” his party’s anthem when unemployment was at 25%.
And the idea that the $26 billion passed by the senate and awaiting action in the Democratic House will make things all better in the public sector is either ignorance on Klein’s part or disingenuousness. The 143,000 census jobs are not coming back no matter how many tens of billions you throw into the laps of Democratic interest groups.
As for the teachers, the question arises how long Uncle Sam is going to keep bailing out his nephews? It’s the same question asked of those who have already gotten 100 weeks or more of unemployment payments. There are people out there who are working two or three jobs just to make ends meet, despite being eligible for the extended unemployment benefits. They don’t want to do it. They find no pleasure in it. They would probably be incensed that I am using them as examples. The point is that there are alternatives out there besides Congress, in essence, giving some people an excuse not to take what job or jobs they can.
If Klein was brilliant in spinning the numbers, Yglesias throws up a strawman that would make Ray Bolger proud:
The losses came from the public sector. And they were foreseeable. And they were foreseen by the President of the United States and the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Majority Leader of the United States Senate and the majority of House members and a majority of Senators. And the President of the United States and the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Majority Leader of the United States Senate and the majority of House members and a majority of Senators voted for bills that would have prevented that. But because in the Senate a minority of members can get their way, action wasn’t taken. Consequently, we have a horrible jobs number. Which would be bad enough, but the way the American political system works, the minority party that prevented the majority from addressing the crisis will accrue massive political benefits as a result of the collapse.
Conservatives won’t admit it today, but what we’re looking at is a major breakdown of the logic of the American political system.
Of course they were foreseeable. Nearly 75% of the public sector job losses resulted from the end of the census taking process. Those jobs were not permanent, were not meant to be permanent, and were always going to end. To make the unbelievable claim that it is the GOP’s fault that the public sector lost 53,000 permanent jobs - many of which the result of state budget cuts outside of the education sector - is illogical.
Maybe Yglesias should start by repairing that “breakdown in logic” in his own head.
Both these prominent ex-members of Journolist appear not to have missed a beat in shilling for the White House.
Jesus Lord how did I miss this eye-popper from Benen:
For quite a while, Democrats have said the government needed to intervene to prevent the job losses we’re seeing now. Republicans refused. To be sure, the job market would need to be stronger in either case, but the GOP is entirely responsible for holding the job market’s head below water — and yet, they’re also the ones gloating. It’s maddening.
Um…no. “For quite a while” the Democrats have been saying that the stimulus would keep unemployment below 8% and that a million green jobs would be created, and that we had to save the jobs of state workers (and we have to do it again and probably again after that), and that unemployment benefits were good for the economy, and any month now, the Democrat’s policies would bear fruit and we’ll all live happily ever after.
And does Bennen realize people are laughing at him when he blames Republicans for this? With a spread of 59-41 in the senate and a 40 seat majority in the House, the problem is not GOP obstructionism but the rank incompetence of Democratic leaders who not only can’t convince one lousy RINO to jump to their side on anything, but can’t even keep their own caucus together. Reagan regularly convinced several dozen Democrats to vote for his policies. All Harry Reid has to do is to keep his hands from jumping ship and convince Olympia Snowe that the New York Times will give her favorable mention if she votes his way.
All last year we heard the same refrain from the Democrats; you have to give the stimulus time to work and then…you’ll see. Things will be right as rain. This despite the fact, as I mention above, Obama looked the American people in the eye and said the crisis was so dire that members of Congress shouldn’t have to read the bill, just vote yes on it so that jobs can be created immediately.
Now that the stim bill has proved to be a spectacular failure, the Democrats have switched their talking points, pretending they knew all along that the stim bill wasn’t enough and we need to spend more, and more again to get the economy rolling. Reminds me of Tom Wolfe’s description of a test pilot going down in The Right Stuff: “I’ve tried A! I’ve tried B! I’ve tried C! Tell me what else I can try!”
Try the truth. That would be novel.