Sunday, September 04, 2011

Losing Jobs, The Conservative Way

Bouncing around from subject to subject, Rush Limbaugh Fridaycharged

We have a federal government out of control. We have demonstrated that sending all this money to the federal government bankrupts and ruins and destroys the economics of this country.

This nation is being held hostage by a small band of ideological radicals who have contempt for the American people and our economic system. Every single policy that pops out of this president's mouth, every single policy that pops out of his mind involves the federal government, federal control, federal spending, federal subsidies, federal this, and federal that.

What to make of this silliness? One website gives two definitions of "bankruptcy" which are fairly typical:

1- a federal law whereby a person's assets are turned over to a trustee and used to pay off outstanding debts; this usually occurs when someone owes more than they have the ability to repay.

2- The condition of a legal entity that does not have the financial means to pay their incurred debts as they come due.

Both definitions infer that bankruptcy occurs only as an entity (such as the U.S. government) lacks the ability to pay its debts. The federal government now can pay its debts and was able to pay its debts prior to the debate on the debt ceiling. It is Rush Limbaugh, Michele Bachmann, and their pals who, opposing raising the ceiling, attempted to render Uncle Sam unable to pay its bills and turn it into a deadbeat. A country with its own currency cannot go bankrupt unless it chooses to. Thus, "sending all this money to the federal government bankrupts" the nation represents either a monumental failure of understanding of basic macroeconomics or another Limbaugh lie. At $50 million a year, utter ignorance is no option.

But the thrust of Rush's tirade lies in his charge that government regulation, the ARRA, and public spending generally prevent economic growth, especially job creation. He claims "Ladies and gentlemen, the only thing standing in the way of economic recovery, economic opportunity, job growth, wealth creation, the only thing standing in the way is Barack Obama himself."

Except- no. The employment picture, as the graph above from DailyKos indicates, had been improving- until this year's spending cuts took effect, and job creation took a nosedive. It was precisely the GOP's demand (admittedly joined by President Obama) which turned an apparent, albeit modest, recovery around.

It doesn't end there. Intentionally deceiving his audience, Rush argues "When we can't produce a single job in the month of August....." Except that jobs were created (Bureau of Labor Statistics table, here) -17,000 of them. Given, however, that 17,000 were lost, there was a net gain of zero.

That might seem to be merely a technical point, but isn't. "When we can't produce a single net job....." is more accurate but does not as effectively grab the attention of the listeners. In addition, reference to "net" jobs might open a Pandora's box for a conservative talk show host. And in that box is a startling fact: 17,000 jobs were produced- in the private sector- while 17,000 government jobs were lost. And that kills the charge "every single policy that pops out of his mind involves the federal government, federal control, federal spending, federal subsidies, federal this, and federal that." Matt Yglesias explains

The striking zero result should galvanize minds, but it’s worth noting that this has been the trend all year. The public sector has been steadily shrinking. According to the conservative theory of the economy, when the public sector shrinks that should super-charge the private sector. What’s happened in the real world has been that public sector shrinkage has simply been paired with anemic private sector growth. This is what I’ve called “The Conservative Recovery.” Conservatives complain about the results because the President is a Democrat named Barack Obama. But the policy result is what conservatives say they want. Steady cuts to the government sector, offset somewhat by private sector growth.

Quite a socialist, that community organizer- destroying public jobs, creating private ones.

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