[Talking Points Memo:]
One claim Republicans make to support their proposition that the country’s worse off than it was “four years ago” is that there are fewer jobs in America today than there were when President Obama took office.
“[H]e hasn’t created one single net new job since he’s been president,” Mitt Romney’s spokeswoman Andrea Saul said on MSNBC Tuesday afternoon.
The keys here are the words “net” and “since he’s been president.” And by that extremely narrow and literal reading, the claim is true — there are fewer net jobs in the country today than there were on the day Obama took office...
Of course, the problem here is that there are a lot of job losses that the president shouldn't take the blame for. As he took the Oath of Office, job numbers were crashing at a terrifying rate -- are those losses Obama's fault or Bush's? As is always the case, we'll stop blaming Bush for things like that when they stop being Bush's fault. In fact, as Steve Benen points out, one prominent Republican had previously argued that Obama shouldn't be blamed for those losses.
Mitt Romney recently said it's only fair to give a new president "at least six months or a year" to get put together an economic plan, assemble a team, and put his or her "policies in place." With that in mind, if we acknowledge President Obama took office in the midst of catastrophic conditions that weren't his fault, and we don't include his first year against him, 3.88 million jobs -- and 4.44 million private-sector jobs -- have been created in less than three years.
That's not using Obama's standard; that's using Romney's standard.
The only way Team Romney's talking point makes sense is if you include job losses that happened immediately after Obama became president -- an argument Romney himself once dismissed as "silly" -- and include public-sector job losses that Republicans say they support.
Further, if we leave out those "public-sector job losses that Republicans say they support," things look a whole lot better.
Even if we make Romney's "silly" argument that this president is responsible for every, single job loss since the second he took office, public sector jobs are in the black. In fact, he outperforms George W. Bush in that area. It's the private sector that's dragging down job numbers. And the people responsible for those private sector losses were getting wild applause for their budget-slashing at last week's Republican National Convention. The job numbers we're seeing now are Republican job numbers and those Republican governors, mayors, county execs, etc. are inarguably responsible for those job losses because they're the ones who did the firing. Republicans treat these guys like heroes. It's laughable that they'd turn around and drop these losses in Obama's lap and suddenly claim they're a bad thing. The fact of the matter is that Republicans are big fans of those job losses, they brag about them, they're responsible for them. I'd add that those public sector losses add to private sectors losses as well, because every lost job of any kind represents a drop in consumer demand. So those net private sector jobs come despite the best efforts of local Republican officials to tank the economy.
But how inconsistent is it that these public sector job losses are both good and bad, depending on what you need them to be at the moment? And when you need them to be good, they're the towering triumph of whatever GOP governor you're trying to build up. When you need them to be bad, they're Obama's fault -- despite the fact that that governor handed out the pink slips.
If Team Romney really has a problem with job numbers, they can tell Republican governors to stop firing and start hiring. The solution really is that simple.