Monday, July 04, 2011

Four Peas In A Pod

What do Michael Steele, Rick Perry, Rush Limbaugh, and Barack Obama have in common?

On CNN, Michael Steele in January, 2009, shortly before becoming chairman of the Republican National Committee, claimed

first off, the government doesn't create jobs. Let's get this notion out of our heads that the government create jobs. Not in the history of mankind has the government ever create a job.

Michele Bachman's worst nightmare, Texas Governor Rick Perry, was asked by Glenn Beck late last month "can the government actually create jobs, sir?" Perry responded

Actually, what a government can do, it can create an environment where those jobs can be created. Government doesn’t create any jobs. They can actually run jobs away.

And of course, Rush Limbaugh:

Government doesn't create jobs. Government transfers wealth around. It doesn't create anything. It destroys it, pure and simple."

But even the President of the United States- a Democrat, they say- in an opinion column co-authored by British Prime Minister David Cameron wrote

Governments don't create jobs. Bold and innovative businesses do.

Matthew Yglesias demolishes this silly argument:

David Petraeus has a job. So does the guy who drove the truck that transported David Petraeus’ uniform to wherever he picked it up. So does the guy who sold that guy his truck’s tires. And so does the guy who served that guy some beer on Friday. And not only do police officers have jobs, but police officers who do their jobs well and make the streets safe create the conditions for economic growth. So do the people who build bridges and the people who man tollbooths. Medicaid pays for poor people’s medicine so they can recover from illness and go back to work rather than staying sick and dying.

Government directly creates jobs, as in the case of General Petraeus, teachers, police officers, and Governor Perry. It creates jobs indirectly by spending policies that increase demand, which in turn enables the private sector to create jobs. And just as a job was created for "the guy who drove the truck that transported David Petraeus' uniform to wherever he picked it up," innumerable businesses could not exist without government contracts. The Center for American Progress reports

The number of contractors in Afghanistan is likely to increase significantly in the next year as the Obama administration pulls back some of the extra 68,000 troops that it has dispatched there since January 2009.

Typically, the U.S. pays one contractor to support every soldier that has deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. The ratio of contractors to troops increases dramatically during a military surge as well as during a drawdown, and often stays higher than troop levels when military numbers are low, i.e. down to 30,000-50,000.

The reason is simple — the military needs extra workers to build new bases as well as to shut them down. Just like a hotel or restaurant, a military base also needs a minimum number of people to do the basics like janitorial or food service work. And as troops withdraw, U.S. diplomats are likely to hire extra security contractors as they are doing now in Iraq.

O.K. We know what Steele, Perry, and Limbaugh are trying to do. But what is the excuse for a President of the United States denying government can ever create a job?

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