Crossroads GPS attempts to link “three years of crushing unemployment” to President Obama’s “failed” investments in clean energy through the Recovery Act. In addition to misrepresenting the program that provided loans for Solyndra and other companies, Crossroads GPS conveniently overlooks what really ‘crushed’ the job market: a historically devastating recession that was destroying hundreds of thousands of jobs per month when Obama was inaugurated. Since then, the avalanche of job losses has turned into steady growth, with the private sector gaining 4.5 million jobs over the last 29 months. The ad also blames Obama for the rising debt without noting the disastrous fiscal impact of Bush policies, such as tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, and the recession.
“Crushing Unemployment” Resulted From Bush Recession
Recession Officially Ran From December 2007 To June 2009, Making It The Longest Since World War II. From the National Bureau of Economic Research: “The Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research met yesterday by conference call. At its meeting, the committee determined that a trough in business activity occurred in the U.S. economy in June 2009. The trough marks the end of the recession that began in December 2007 and the beginning of an expansion. The recession lasted 18 months, which makes it the longest of any recession since World War II. Previously the longest postwar recessions were those of 1973-75 and 1981-82, both of which lasted 16 months. In determining that a trough occurred in June 2009, the committee did not conclude that economic conditions since that month have been favorable or that the economy has returned to operating at normal capacity. Rather, the committee determined only that the recession ended and a recovery began in that month.” [NBER.org, 9/20/10]
- Even Prior To 2007 “Great Recession,” Bush Presidency Showed “Slowest Average Annual Growth Since World War II.” From David Leonhardt of the New York Times: “Why should we believe that extending the Bush tax cuts will provide a big lift to growth? Those tax cuts passed in 2001 amid big promises about what they would do for the economy. What followed? The decade with the slowest average annual growth since World War II. Amazingly, that statement is true even if you forget about the Great Recession and simply look at 2001-7.” [NYTimes.com, 11/18/10]
Bush Recession Was So Severe That Economy Was Still Shedding Over Three-Quarters Of A Million Jobs Per Month Through First Few Months Of President Obama’s Term. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy shed 839,000 jobs in January 2009, 725,000 in February 2009, 787,000 in March 2009, and 802,000 in April 2009, for a four-month average of 788,250 lost jobs per month. [BLS.gov, accessed 5/3/12]
- Recession Resulted In 8.3 Million Job Losses. According to the Associated Press, “the Great Recession killed 8.3 million jobs, compared with 1.6 million lost in the 2001 recession.” [Associated Press via Yahoo! News, 5/4/12]
Under Obama, Massive Monthly Job Losses Have Turned Into Steady Private-Sector Growth
Since The Recession Ended In June 2009, The Private Sector Has Added 3.3 Million Jobs While Public-Sector Employment Has Fallen By Over 640,000. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 107,933,000 private-sector jobs in June 2009, and 111,317,000 private-sector jobs in July 2012, an increase of 3,384,000 jobs. The BLS also reports that there were 22,570,000 Americans working in the public sector in June 2009, and 21,928,000 working in the public sector in July 2012, a decrease of 642,000 jobs. The private-sector gains and public-sector losses add up to a total increase of 2,742,000 jobs.
The following chart shows the cumulative private-sector job gains and public-sector job losses since the recession officially ended in June 2009:
- Conservative AEI: The Public Sector Is Shrinking, But Private-Sector Growth Is Above Average. From American Enterprise Institute scholar Mark J. Perry: “In the second quarter of 2012, ‘public sector GDP’ decreased -1.44%, and that was the eighth straight quarter of negative growth for total government spending, averaging -2.88% per quarter over the last two years. In contrast, there have been 12 consecutive quarters of positive growth for private sector GDP averaging 3.07% per quarter in the three years since the recession ended, which is slightly higher than the 2.8% average growth rate in private real GDP over the last 25 years.” [AEI-Ideas.org, 7/31/12]
- GOP-Favored “Government Downsizing” Has Been “A Drag” On Job Growth. From the Associated Press: “Conservative Republicans have long clamored for government downsizing. They’re starting to get it — by default. Crippled by plunging tax revenues, state and local governments have shed over a half million jobs since the recession began in December 2007. And, after adding jobs early in the downturn, the federal government is now cutting them as well. States cut 49,000 jobs over the past year and localities 210,000, according to an analysis of Labor Department statistics. There are 30,000 fewer federal workers now than a year ago — including 5,300 Postal Service jobs canceled last month. By contrast, private-sector jobs have increased by 1.6 million over the past 12 months. But the state, local and federal job losses have become a drag on efforts to nudge the nation’s unemployment rate down from its painfully high 9.1 percent.” [Associated Press, 10/25/11]
The Private Sector Has Added 4.5 Million Jobs Over 29 Consecutive Months Of Private-Sector Growth. The following chart shows the monthly change in private-sector jobs dating back to January 2008.
Recovery Act Created American Jobs, Boosted GDP, And Cut Taxes
Recovery Act “Succeeded In…Protecting The Economy During The Worst Of The Recession.” From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: “A new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report estimates that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) increased the number of people employed by between 200,000 and 1.5 million jobs in March. In other words, between 200,000 and 1.5 million people employed in March owed their jobs to the Recovery Act. […] ARRA succeeded in its primary goal of protecting the economy during the worst of the recession. The CBO report finds that ARRA’s impact on jobs peaked in the third quarter of 2010, when up to 3.6 million people owed their jobs to the Recovery Act. Since then, the Act’s job impact has gradually declined as the economy recovers and certain provisions expire.” [CBPP.org, 5/29/12]
At Its Peak, Recovery Act Was Responsible For Up To 3.6 Million Jobs. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office:
CBO estimates that ARRAs [sic] policies had the following effects in the third quarter of calendar year 2010:
- They raised real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product by between 1.4 percent and 4.1 percent,
- Lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.8 percentage points and 2.0 percentage points,
- Increased the number of people employed by between 1.4 million and 3.6 million, and
- Increased the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) jobs by 2.0 million to 5.2 million compared with what would have occurred otherwise. (Increases in FTE jobs include shifts from part-time to full-time work or overtime and are thus generally larger than increases in the number of employed workers). [CBO.gov, 11/24/10]
Recovery Act Included $288 Billion In Tax Cuts. From PolitiFact: “Nearly a third of the cost of the stimulus, $288 billion, comes via tax breaks to individuals and businesses. The tax cuts include a refundable credit of up to $400 per individual and $800 for married couples; a temporary increase of the earned income tax credit for disadvantaged families; and an extension of a program that allows businesses to recover the costs of capital expenditures faster than usual. The tax cuts aren’t so much spending as money the government won’t get — so it can stay in the economy. ” [PolitiFact.com, 2/17/10]
Solyndra Loan Approval Process Started During The Bush Administration
In 2006, Under The Bush Administration, Solyndra And 15 Other Applicants Were Selected To Submit Full Applications. From testimony of Jonathan Silver, executive director of the Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office, before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations: “The 2006 solicitation resulted in 143 submissions. The loan program staff and others at the department reviewed those for eligibility, which is a thinner review than the full due diligence, and recommended 16 applications to file a full application. A dozen did so. Solyndra was one of those. And the department conducted due diligence on all of those 11.” [Jonathan Silver Testimony via Nexis, 9/14/11]
Under The Obama Administration, The Loan Proceeded Along The Same Timeline Laid Out Under The Bush Administration. From testimony of Jonathan Silver, executive director of the Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office, before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations: “After the Obama Administration took office, the loan programs’ staff, and their advisors, continued their comprehensive review of the transaction and, in March 2009, on the exact timeline that had been developed during the Bush Administration, the program issued Solyndra a conditional commitment for a $535 million loan guarantee. Subsequently, in September 2009, following several more months of rigorous and comprehensive due diligence and documentation by the loan programs’ staff and external advisors, and the raising of almost $200 million of additional private investment by the company, the transaction reached financial close and DOE formally issued its loan guarantee.” [Jonathan Silver testimony, 9/14/11]
The Program That Backed The Solyndra Loan Was Designed To Take Some Losses
The Loan Guarantee Program Was Structured To Withstand – Even Expect – Some Defaults. From a blog post by Michael Mendelsohn, a Senior Financial Analyst at the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory: “Importantly, the DOE Loan Guarantee program was never expected to be risk-free, but rather was designed to support a portfolio of promising energy technologies that, when combined, represent a manageable level of risk. Chadbourne’s Hansen argues that, ‘if the Loan Guarantee program has no defaults, it’s simply not taking on the risk it was designed to. The overall risk of the portfolio is the critical metric, and for that, given the DOE’s conservative assessment of the projects, the credit subsidy costs provided under ARRA should provide the taxpayer plenty of insurance.’” [Financere.NREL.gov, 12/28/11]
Solyndra Was “Barely 1%” Of DOE’s Clean Energy Portfolio. From Time’s “Swampland” blog: “Nobody’s going to care that all successful loan programs have failures, that the Solyndra venture was barely 1% of the Energy Department’s $40 billion clean-energy portfolio, that there will still be over $2 billion in reserves for busted loans no matter how Solyndra shakes out.” [Time’s “Swampland,” 9/14/11]
Congress Set Aside $10 Billion For Losses. From Businessweek: “Congress set aside $10 billion in the clean-energy and auto loan programs for possible losses, and the Energy Department had initially anticipated as much as $5 billion in losses, [White House Spokesman Eric] Schultz said in an e-mail.” [Businessweek, 2/13/12]
Bush Policies And Recession Fueled Rising Debt
Prior To President Obama’s Inauguration, President Bush Had Already Created A Projected $1.2 Trillion Deficit For Fiscal Year 2009. From the Washington Times: “The Congressional Budget Office announced a projected fiscal 2009 deficit of $1.2 trillion even if Congress doesn’t enact any new programs. […] About the only person who was silent on the deficit projection was Mr. Bush, who took office facing a surplus but who saw spending balloon and the country notch the highest deficits on record.” [Washington Times, 1/8/09]
NYT: President Bush’s Policy Changes Created Much More Debt Than President Obama’s. The New York Times published the following chart comparing the fiscal impact of policies enacted under the Bush and Obama administrations:
[New York Times, 7/24/11]
Recession Added Hundreds Of Billions In Deficits By Increasing Spending On Unemployment Insurance And Safety Net While Shrinking Tax Revenue. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) explains: “When unemployment rises and incomes stagnate in a recession, the federal budget responds automatically: tax collections shrink, and spending goes up for programs like unemployment insurance, Social Security, and Food Stamps.” According to CBPP: “The recession battered the budget, driving down tax revenues and swelling outlays for unemployment insurance, food stamps, and other safety-net programs. Using CBO’s August 2008 projections as a benchmark, we calculate that the changed economic outlook alone accounts for over $400 billion of the deficit each year in 2009 through 2011 and slightly smaller amounts in subsequent years. Those effects persist; even in 2018, the deterioration in the economy since the summer of 2008 will account for over $300 billion in added deficits, much of it in the form of additional debt-service costs.” [CBPP.org, 11/18/10; CBPP.org, 5/10/11, citations removed]
Over The Coming Decade, The Bush Tax Cuts Are The Primary Cause Of Federal Budget Deficits. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities prepared a chart showing the deficit impact of the Bush tax cuts (orange), the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the recession itself, and spending to rescue the economy:
CBPP: Bush Tax Cuts And Wars Are Driving The Debt. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
The complementary chart, below, shows that the Bush-era tax cuts and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — including their associated interest costs — account for almost half of the projected public debt in 2019 (measured as a share of the economy) if we continue current policies.
[Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 5/20/11]
Spending Growth Under Obama Is Low
January 2009 (Pre-Obama): Federal Spending Projected To Spike To $3.5 Trillion Without Any Policy Changes. In January 2009, the Congressional Budget Office projected: “Without changes in current laws and policies, CBO estimates, outlays will rise from $3.0 trillion in 2008 to $3.5 trillion in 2009.” [Congressional Budget Office, “The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2009 to 2019,” January 2009]
Accounting For Inflation And President Obama’s Impact On FY 2009, Spending Will Have Grown By Just 1.7 Percent From 2009 To 2012. According to Michael Linden, Director of Tax and Budget Policy at the Center for American Progress:
[I]n January 2009, before President Obama had even taken office, the Congressional Budget Office projected that federal spending would exceed $3.5 trillion for fiscal year 2009, half a trillion more than the government spent in 2008. Again, that was BEFORE President Obama event took office. It’s reasonable to use that number as our best guess at what spending would have been in FY2009 under ANY president. […]
Of course, the CBO’s projections aren’t perfect. They change as the economy changes and as laws change. Fortunately, CBO also tells us in subsequent reports how and why its previous estimates have changed. We can use that to understand how much of the total federal spending in fiscal year 2009 was attributable to legislative changes that occurred AFTER President Obama took office.
The answer is that out of a total of $3.5 trillion actually spent in FY09, only $165 billion, less than 5 percent, was the result of policy changes signed into law by President Obama.
In other words, probably the best baseline against which to judge spending under Obama is $3.5 trillion (the amount actually spent in 2009) minus $165 billion (the added amount Obama himself actually approved): $3.35 trillion. This year, the CBO expects that the federal government will spend $3.6 trillion. After accounting for inflation, that’s a growth rate of just 1.7 percent. By comparison, and using the exact same methodology, spending in President Bush’s first term was up nearly 15 percent. [ThinkProgress.org, 5/25/12]
PolitiFact: Spending Growth Under Obama Is “Second-Slowest” In Recent History. According to PolitiFact: “Obama has indeed presided over the slowest growth in spending of any president [in recent history] using raw dollars, and the growth on his watch was the second-slowest if you adjust for inflation.” [PolitiFact.com, 5/23/12]
[NARRATOR:] America has suffered three years of crushing unemployment. Remember this? [PRESIDENT OBAMA CLIP:] We’ll create nearly half-a-million jobs by investing in clean energy. [NARRATOR:] What really happened? Billions wasted on failed investments, thousands of Americans lost jobs, while stimulus money went to companies that created jobs overseas. Paid for by the $4 billion Obama’s added to our debt every day. Tell President Obama: For real job growth cut the debt. Support the New Majority Agenda at NewMajorityAgenda.org. [Crossroads GPS via YouTube, 7/23/12]