Archive for March 14th, 2010

by JC

Over at LitW, a comment thread ensued lambasting the Obama administration’s inaccurate prediction of the scale of job loss as an outcome of the stimulus bill.

It started off with the usual inane comment from Eric Coobs:

“Democrats trying to better the lives of everyday Americans? I don’t think so.

‘Hope and Change’ has put how many million people out of work now?”

And of course, Craig Moore had to step in for some tea bagger backup, noting that 3.6 million jobs had been lost since Obama took office, and unemployment hit 10% instead of the predicted 8%. Duly noted. Stimulus should have been larger–though that was politically unfeasible in light of the fact that needing a few republican votes to pass the stimulus necessitated a scaling back of the size of the bill. Remember those negotiations with 3 republican Senators to win passage? Therein lies the weakness of the stimulus and its lessened impact on job loss.

The point I am trying to make, however, is that while it is easy to blame Obama for job losses, and for a too-rosy early forecast on the impact of the stimulus, this is nothing compared to the Bush forecast in early 2008 on the economy, and failure to act at all. Forecasts that were delivered via an ostrich with its head in the ground.

President Bush’s “2008 Economic Report of the President (p. 26)” predicted the following in February of 2008:

“The Administration’s forecast calls for the economic expansion to continue in 2008, but at a slower pace than in the earlier years of this expansion. Slower growth is anticipated for the first half of the year, and the average unemployment rate for 2008 is projected to move up from the 2007 level. In 2009 and 2010 real GDP growth is projected at 3 percent, thereafter slowing, while the unemployment rate is projected to remain stable and below 5 percent in the 2009-10 period”

And a specific job forecast (p. 38):

“The Administration projects that employment will increase at an average pace of 109,000 jobs per month during the four quarters of 2008 [for a total of 1.3 million job growth in 2008]”

Obviously Bush & Co. seriously misunderestimated the impending doom of the upcoming Great Recession. And totally missed the 4th quarter 2008 GDP, which decreased by 6.2%.

Yet Coobs, Moore, and some of our local righty commenters et al. seem to think that 1) all of the job loss during Obama’s first year is all of his and the dems own making; 2) this is evidence of the failure of the stimulus (instead of the insufficient scale of the stimulus, as most economists believe); and 3) that everything was hunky dory during Bush’s outgoing year, and the fact that the economy lost 3.1 million jobs in 2008, instead of exhibiting the predicted growth of 1.3 million jobs is of no consequence. Conservatives are in major denial about any responsibility of either Bush or conservative ideology in respect to our current economic situation and employment levels.

This is the story going into the elections of 2010, and to some degree will be used against Obama during his reelection campaign, should he decide to run. And of course, it flies false in face of all the facts and evidence (unless you are a denier of any culpability of the Bush administration for our current problems), and is an early revisionist attempt to whitewash Bush & Co.’s culpability.

And it is easy to see the evidence that Coobs’ next comment, “employment has been in a free-fall since The Great Leader moved into the White House,” is totally absurd. The free-fall during Bush’s last year ended right as Obama took office, and the rate of job loss has fallen to the point same point it was in early 2008, when Bush was burying his head deeper in the sand, and dreaming of long days on the ranch in Texas.

Coobs’ assertions are not an isolated moment of tea bagger misunderestimations and overstated bluster. It is mainstream righty propaganda and thus a growing meme in the uncritical media. It is going to be the leading charge against democrats this fall. But it is patently false and misleading, and needs to be called out every time it arises.

I’ll leave you all with a graph put together by Speaker Pelosi from Bureau of Labor and Statistics data that speaks for itself:


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