( – promoted by buhdydharma )
Republicans and tea-baggers are winning the public debate about “big government” with the argument that “big spending” has failed to reduce unemployment much below 10%, and why are Obama and the Democrats so pitifully ineffective at refuting the dim-witted rants of a mob of yahoos?
Paul Krugman analyzed Obama’s self-inflicted dilemma in a recent column.
Actually, the administration has had a messaging problem on economic policy ever since its first months in office, when it went for a stimulus plan that many of us warned from the beginning was inadequate given the size of the economy’s troubles.
You can argue that Mr. Obama got all he could – that a larger plan wouldn’t have made it through Congress (which is questionable), and that an inadequate stimulus was much better than none at all (which it was). But that’s not an argument the administration ever made. Instead, it has insisted throughout that its original plan was just right, a position that has become increasingly awkward as the recovery stalls.
And a side consequence of this awkward positioning is that officials can’t easily offer the obvious rebuttal to claims that big spending failed to fix the economy – namely, that thanks to the inadequate scale of the Recovery Act, big spending never happened in the first place.
The real story is clear enough in the graphic below, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, representing the total number of jobs in the USA month by month, in thousands.
The bottom falls out of employment beginning in August 2008, high-lighted in red, 460,000 jobs disappear between August and September, and month after month 550,000 jobs vanish between September and October, then 720,000, then 670,000, and so on until November and December 2009, when the bleeding finally stops, and very modest growth ensues.
This is the story Democrats should have been telling over and over and over and over, on every talk-show and at every press conference. Bush/Cheney cut the throat of the American economy, Obama’s stimulus stopped the bleeding, and now we need another transfusion.
But Obama pretended that his original stimulus was just exactly right, and now Democrats don’t have a story to tell.