An ad from Restore Our Future dredges up an out-of-context quote from President Obama to suggest he believes 8 percent unemployment is “doing fine.” In reality, Obama was explaining that the private sector is steadily creating new jobs, while declining public-sector employment – a trend favored by conservatives – has slowed the recovery. The private sector has now added 4.6 million jobs over the last 30 consecutive months of growth. The ad also blames the president for America’s “crushing debt,” which exploded as a consequence of Bush administration policies and the recession, but fails to acknowledge that Republicans have rejected Obama’s debt-reduction proposals.
“Doing Fine” Statement Referred To Public-Sector Losses Dragging Down The Recovery
Obama: “Where We’re Seeing Weaknesses In Our Economy Have To Do With State And Local Government.” From a transcript of an exchange between President Obama and a reporter:
Q What about the Republicans saying that you’re blaming the Europeans for the failures of your own policies?
THE PRESIDENT: The truth of the matter is that, as I said, we’ve created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone. The private sector is doing fine. Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government — oftentimes, cuts initiated by governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don’t have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in.
And so, if Republicans want to be helpful, if they really want to move forward and put people back to work, what they should be thinking about is, how do we help state and local governments and how do we help the construction industry. Because the recipes that they’re promoting are basically the kinds of policies that would add weakness to the economy, would result in further layoffs, would not provide relief in the housing market, and would result, I think most economists estimate, in lower growth and fewer jobs, not more. [WhiteHouse.gov, 6/8/12]
- Obama Clarified That He Didn’t Mean The Economy At Large Is “Doing Fine.” From the Huffington Post: “The president sought to clarify his remarks later Friday, saying it is ‘absolutely clear the economy is not doing fine.’ He continued, ‘That’s the reason I had a press conference. That’s why I spent yesterday, the day before yesterday, this past week, this past month and this past year talking about how we can make the economy stronger. The economy is not doing fine. There are too many people out of work. The housing market is still weak, too many homes underwater and that’s precisely why I asked Congress to start taking some steps that can make a difference.’” [HuffingtonPost.com, 6/8/12]
The Facts Back Up Obama’s Statement. From the Huffington Post: “Obama’s comments about jobs growth have some bearing. The economy has gained about 4.2 million private sector jobs since early 2010, putting payroll at about the same level as it was in January 2009. Since Obama took office, about 607,000 fewer people work in the public sector. State and local governments, unlike the federal government, generally have to balance their budgets, and with fewer revenues, spending cuts have forced layoffs.” [HuffingtonPost.com, 6/8/12]
The Private Sector Has Added Millions Of Jobs Since The Recession
The Private Sector Has Added 4.6 Million Jobs Over 30 Consecutive Months Of Private-Sector Growth. The following chart shows the monthly change in private-sector jobs dating back to January 2008:
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]
- 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]
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]
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
Previous Recoveries Were Bolstered By Public-Sector Growth. The following chart, based on BLS data, shows the cumulative change in public-sector employment in the first two years of the Obama recovery and the three most recent previous recoveries:
[BLS.gov, accessed 4/10/12]
Bush Policies And Recession Caused Debt To Skyrocket
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 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]
Republicans Have Opposed President Obama’s Deficit-Reduction Efforts
September 2011: Obama Proposed $3 Trillion In Deficit Reduction; “Republicans Swiftly Responded … With Opposition.” According to the Los Angeles Times: “President Obama on Monday made an aggressive pitch for his $3-trillion deficit-reduction strategy, promising to veto any proposal that fails to raise revenues by asking wealthy Americans to ‘pay their fair share.’ […] His plan for lopping $3 trillion from the deficit is on top of the approximately $1 trillion in spending cuts that he signed into law in August, after reaching a deal with Republican congressional leaders to lift the nation’s debt ceiling. On Monday, Republicans swiftly responded to the president’s proposal with opposition. [Los Angeles Times, 9/19/11]
April 2011: GOP Rejected Obama Proposal To Reduce Deficits By $4 Trillion. According to the Boston Globe: “President Obama pledged yesterday to pare the projected deficit by $4 trillion in the next 12 years, vowing to protect the nation’s most vulnerable while pushing again for higher taxes for its richest citizens. […] His call for the end of the Bush tax cuts for incomes above $250,000 for couples reignites a ferocious debate from the fall midterm elections. That element of the speech triggered the most vociferous and immediate opposition from Republicans.” [Boston Globe, 4/14/11]
[NARRATOR:] Welcome to the new normal, where over 8 percent unemployment is “doing fine,” and millions of Americans have simply given up. Where our children will grow up under the weight of crushing debt, in a world where America is no longer the leader. And we’re told we’re going forward, even as we fall further behind. This is the new normal. This is President Obama’s economy. Demand better. Restore Our Future is responsible for the content of this message.[Restore Our Future via YouTube.com, 10/4/12]