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A Point That Cannot Be Made Often Enough

[ 139 ] June 29, 2011 |

Ezra:

Let’s agree that what matters isn’t how many jobs you “get caught trying” to create, but how many jobs you actually create. There’s virtually no evidence that if Obama makes more speeches on jobs, his poll numbers will go up or the labor market will improve. There’s lots of evidence that if he passes policies that create more jobs, his poll numbers will go up and the labor market will improve. The question, then, isn’t how Obama can get “caught trying.” It’s how — or whether — he can succeed.

Obama can make the best speeches about the necessity for action on the economy in history, but they won’t matter at all if the economy doesn’t actually improve, and if the economy does improve significantly he’ll win no matter what he says.

Comments (139)

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  1. wsn says:

    Ok, but are the R’s actually going to let anything that might benefit the economy happen?

    And if not, you might as well blame the other guys for the mess.

    • Oscar Leroy says:

      Partially. But Obama could have created an effective mortgage relief program, which would have done a lot to boost the economy, but instead gave us the dreadful HAMP. He could have chosen a Fed chief who was dedicated to battling unemployment, but instead gave us Bernanke. He could have pushed for a bigger stimulus, but instead he and his economic team gave up the fight before it even began.

      • jeer9 says:

        But … but … but the Democrats are in favor of gay marriage! Once you understand that Obama is a moderate Republican his economic policies make perfect sense, and he’s still the pragmatic choice next year. Looking forward to Cuomo vs. Perry in 2016.

      • Furious Jorge says:

        This is exactly right. All you needed to know about Obama’s approach to the economy was made clear when he gave us Ben Bernanke. It’s a capitulation to the conventional when conventional economic policy won’t do shit.

        He may be a brilliant Constitutional law scholar (I have no idea if he is or isn’t, but he’s quite smart so it wouldn’t surprise me), but it’s been very frustrating to realize that he is not particularly economically literate. Which in and of itself shouldn’t surprise, because most politicians are damn near completely ignorant of what economics actually has to tell us.

        • I remember thinking this during the 2008 election.

          When the primaries were going on, Iraq was the most important issue, and nobody was worrying very much about the economy. And then, once the choices were made, BLAM!

          You think Barack Obama is inexpert on the subject? The Republicans nominated the guy who said, during the campaign: “The issue of economics is something that I’ve really never understood as well as I should. I understand the basics, the fundamentals, the vision, all that kind of stuff.”

      • wsn says:

        I agree with all of this.

  2. Ken Houghton says:

    Wrong, because of what wsn pointed out: if you cannot create jobs–and let’s be clear that BarryO’s people are not tryingto do so, which makes the effort that much more difficult–you bloody better be able to show that you’ve got better ideas than the people who are making fun of you because they, correctly, note that you’re not trying to create jobs.

    If you do something like put Jeffrey Immelt in charge of job creation, don’t assume people are stupid enough to think you’re trying. That’s not just what Brad DeLong calls an unforced error; that’s hitting two balls at the referee and expecting that you won’t be penalized. (Or, to put it in language Scott can understand, that’s like signing Todd Bertuzzi and Marty McSorley and claiming you want to increase scoring and reduce fighting on your team under coach Ron Blake.)

    • Oscar Leroy says:

      Why in the world would Obama not be trying to use the government to create jobs?

      “Government can’t create jobs”–Barack Obama, Sept. 27 2010

      http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/09/27/remarks-president-signing-small-business-jobs-act

      Oh, right.

      • Quotation marks are used when excepting the actual words someone speaks or writes. When you edit a statement, particularly to change its meaning, you are supposed to use ellipses. Your fake quotes appears nowhere in the piece you linked to.

        Here’s what does:

        So when I took office, I put in place a plan — an economic plan to help small businesses. And we were guided by a simple idea: Government can’t guarantee success, but it can knock down barriers to success, like the lack of affordable credit. Government can’t replace — can’t create jobs to replace the millions that we lost in the recession, but it can create the conditions for small businesses to hire more people, through steps like tax breaks.

        and this:

        Now, the second thing this bill does is we’re going to make more loans available to small businesses.

        If you want to make the argument that Obama is wrong to state that private-sector hiring is a necessary part of a jobs effort, that a government-only approach is insufficient to the task, go right ahead.

        But misrepresenting that argument is disreputable.

        • Bill Murray says:

          But since Government can create jobs to replace the millions lost in the recession your point is rather disingenuous and Obama shouldn’t be given credit for parroting false right wing talking points. I think misrepresenting reality is a far bigger area of disrepute.

          • As a matter of fact, your opinion about the capability of government-only solutions doesn’t have the slightest relevance to my point about the misrepresentation of Obama’s statement.

            As a matter of fact, pointing out that a quote was mangled is not disingenuous, no matter how awesome you think the motive for mangling it might be.

            I’m really not interested in having a discussion about the validity of Obama’s actual position with someone who makes an argument that lying is OK. Why would anyone think that any discussion with such a person would be in any way fruitful?

            What is this, it’s OK if you’re a firebagger?

            • Ed says:

              As a matter of fact, pointing out that a quote was mangled is not disingenuous, no matter how awesome you think the motive for mangling it might be.

              The point was that Obama’s statement in toto reads more or less as Oscar said and Obama was indeed parroting GOP talking points, so the “mangling” doesn’t mean as much as you seem to think it does, and he also helpfully linked to the comments that allowed you to expose his heinous deed for all to witness.

              • Noting that government is insufficient to do the totality of a job – that it needs to work in partnership – is not the same thing as asserting that government has no role in doing the job.

                Those are two very different points, and only the latter – the one Obama never expressed – is a GOP talking point.

                It was dishonest to claim he was making a point he didn’t make, and the invention of a quote, put into quotation marks, in order to misrepresent the point he was making was equally dishonest.

                The wisdom of Oscar’s decision to link to a source that shows him to be dishonest is a subject you’ll have to take up with him.

                • Furious Jorge says:

                  Noting that government is insufficient to do the totality of a job – that it needs to work in partnership – is not the same thing as asserting that government has no role in doing the job.

                  It may not be – and I’m not completely convinced that Obama meant what you say he meant – but he should damn well know that by saying *anything* that includes the phrase “government cannot create jobs,” he will actually lend credibility to that exact view. His more nuanced approach is refreshing in a number of ways – it shows that unlike his predecesor, he can appreciate complexity – but he has to be damn careful of parroting GOP talking points, even if he doesn’t necessarily mean to.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      you bloody better be able to show that you’ve got better ideas than the people who are making fun of you because they, correctly, note that you’re not trying to create jobs.

      I suppose you can, but essentially it won’t help you get re-elected.

    • note that you’re not trying to create jobs

      That is not what his opponents “note.” They “note” that he is trying too hard to create jobs through government spending, and claim that this approach does not work.

  3. Murc says:

    I disagree with this, Scott. Well; disagree with it to an extent.

    Let’s say that you CAN’T create jobs. (We’ll use that as a synonym for ‘improve the economy for people generally.) Literally can’t; there’s no shot left in your locker that will do so and you have no chance in hell of getting any cooperation from either Congress or the Fed on the issue.

    In that situation, I think that, politically speaking (we’re talking the political implications, not the policy ones here, right?) it DOES matter if you’re seen to be fighting tooth and nail to create jobs, rather than NOT being seen to do so. The former could have a salutary effect on your supporters, and the electorate in general, while the latter will not. It will have particular effect if you manage to blame the lack of job creation on the people actually CAUSING it. It DOES matter. Not as much as actually creating jobs, but to say it doesn’t matter at all is just flat-out wrong.

    Let’s say there’s a whole continuum of choices here, stretching from ‘Actively Create Jobs’ to ‘Actively Destroy Jobs.’ In-between you have a bunch of other options; not creating jobs but not destroying them either would be in the middle, for example, with various ‘tried but failed’ choices stretching off to both sides.

    It would, of course, be wise for Obama to avoid both actively destroying jobs AND by trying to pitch his active destruction of said jobs as a good thing rather than the least bad option when dealing with political hostage-takers. Sadly, I anticipate that in a few weeks he will try to sell the two-trillion dollar bullet he’s about to allow to be shot into the foot of the economy as a compromise worth celebrating.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      I think that, politically speaking (we’re talking the political implications, not the policy ones here, right?) it DOES matter if you’re seen to be fighting tooth and nail to create jobs, rather than NOT being seen to do so.

      It really doesn’t. Only a tiny minority of people pays any intention to this stuff, and people in this tiny minority are the least likely to be swing voters.

      • I don’t think that’s quite entirely true. In general, most people who ultimately vote are at least somewhat in tune with the news, and they generally pick up the narratives or repeated themes. If back when Republicans were the minority the administration had taken pains to be seen as trying to do something and making Republicans block everything they probably could have made hay on that, but at this point, and with Republicans controlling the House, it can’t really be done.

        • Malaclypse says:

          In general, most people who ultimately vote are at least somewhat in tune with the news,

          The news, as reported, where the deficit will kill our grandkids, and union schoolteachers are responsible for your local town’s deficit?

          Nobody in the media cares about jobs.

          • mpowell says:

            Well, they are also a bunch of clueless morons who think that federal spending of 22% of GDP is completely unsustainable. Their minds get to a place where they believe that though partially because they don’t actually give a damn about the bottom 80% of the population, though.

        • at this point, and with Republicans controlling the House, it can’t really be done.

          Why would Republican control of the House make it harder to demonstrate that they’re blocking jobs bills?

          Wouldn’t it make it easier, by taking away their ability to say “The Democrats control Congress, and they can’t pass a bill,” like they did on so many issues throughout 2009-2010 (even when it was Republican filibusters in the Senate that blocked the bills)?

          • Because they can just as easily say that they have their own ideas and the President is blocking them. In the minority though they don’t have any real claim to democratic legitimacy of they’re more obviously obstructing.

            • The public doesn’t give any credence to the Republicans’ arguments that their policies – tax cuts for the wealthy, gutting regulation, “reforming” Medicare – will actually create jobs.

              So, pointing out that the Democrats are blocking efforts that only committed Republicans think would create jobs won’t actually convince anyone whose votes matter that Democrats are preventing the creation of jobs.

          • hv says:

            …by taking away their ability to say “The Democrats control Congress, and they can’t pass a bill,” like they did on so many issues throughout 2009-2010

            Citation please? What campaign was based on Obama had done nothing? I thought they were all campaigning against Obama-care, etc.

            • Obama? We’re talking about Congress.

              Such as, the Republicans’ blocking of so many appropriations bills, and then complaining that the Democrats didn’t pass appropriations bills.

      • Murc says:

        Assuming that’s true (and I don’t think it is, at least not the extent you assert) the people who DO pay attention… they’re likely to be the kind of people you want enthused enough to give you their money, time, and sweat when it comes to things like knocking on doors, yes? And if it matters to THOSE people, then it DOES MATTER.

        If the Republicans are gonna do what they’re gonna do totally independently of your actions, and the electorate at large doesn’t care, what’s the political downside of positioning yourself as the champion of jobs and job-creation?

        I’d also argue long-term narrative matters. I get the impression Obama is doing the deficit tango right now because he feels boxed in, and he feels boxed in because Demcorats in general and himself in particular have been letting Republican rhetoric define the scope of the debate. You get out of that box by punching back, right?

        • Holden Pattern says:

          Assuming that’s true (and I don’t think it is, at least not the extent you assert) the people who DO pay attention… they’re likely to be the kind of people you want enthused enough to give you their money, time, and sweat when it comes to things like knocking on doors, yes? And if it matters to THOSE people, then it DOES MATTER.

          Then it doesn’t matter, because as cheerleaders like those we’ve seen in comments here will point out: those people you describe have nowhere else to go because the Republicans are batshit insane and the Democrats are a couple steps behind batshit insane and can’t be blamed for anything anyway, nothing bad is ever their doing, they’re doing the best they can, so clap louder, motherfucker or it’s all your fault.

          Remember: liberals are in that magic sweet spot where they’re a naive and stupid powerless fringe group who should be ignored by the Dems when they want something, but they’re *just* powerful enough to be the people who should be blamed when Democrats don’t win. Those narratives are prewritten into American politics.

          • Murc says:

            Well, I would never advocate not VOTING for Obama over, say, the Bachmann/Pawlenty ticket.

            But it would be hard for me to blame someone who, in 2008, knocked on 500 doors in Nevada and manned a phone bank for two weeks (that he really couldn’t afford to take off from job hunting and did anyway) for not doing ANY of that in 2012 because he feels let down and dispirited.

          • Liberals overwhelmingly approve of Obama’s performance.

            Don’t describe your fringe of a sliver of a faction as “liberals.”

            We vastly outnumber you.

            • Murc says:

              You may wanna clarify that, joe. I read it as ‘self-described liberals are overwhelmingly approving of Obamas preformance’ (which I’d argue) as opposed to ‘self-described liberals, in overwhelming numbers, approve of Obamas preformance’ (which is what I think you meant.)

            • Walt says:

              Shit, Joe, that’s the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever seen you say. Get some distance. Obama is a shitty President who’s going to lose in 2012. It makes me sad to say it, since he’s better than the alternative, but we’re going to be getting the alternative.

              • An accurate statement about public opinion?

                You and I have a different definition of “embarrassing.”

                Thank you for sharing your own, individual feelings. They really don’t have anything to with the objective facts about public opinion, and I’m not the slightest bit embarrassed to point that out.

              • Get some distance yourself

                80% of Netroots Nation attendees approve of Obama’s performance.

                But your gut tells you that it’s “embarrassing” for me to point out that Obama is popular among liberals.

                Whatever.

    • I think you’re probably right about that in general, but that it’s something that would have been true back in May 2009 or something. If Obama had praised the ARRA but made clear that it wasn’t enough and a lot more would need to be done and then Congressional Republicans/Blue Dogs blocked everything, Obama could maybe have positioned himself as doing what he could but being stymied by an intransigent and irresponsible minority in Congress.

      But at this point it’s just too late in the game to try that.

      • Scott Lemieux says:

        He could have tried it, but it wouldn’t have worked. The President gets blamed for bad economic performance no matter what.

  4. Political strategery isn’t only about going on the offensive. It’s also about taking away your opponents’ ability to go on the offensive. Think of Karl Rove’s strategy of attacking your opponent’s strongest point. By whispering that a judge well-known for his work with children might be a child molester, or that a decorated war hero might not deserve his medals, you make sure that every time the candidates bring up those strengths, their effect will be blunted.

    Making the Republicans oppose job-creation measures blunts their ability to complain about Obama’s job-creation record.

    • richard says:

      I agree with that. I don’t think he should be seen as not trying to do anything. But the fact is that, with the Republicans controlling the House, there is nothing the President can do to create jobs. He has to hope the economy improves and unemployment gets down under 8%. If it is at 9% or higher in November of 2012, I don’t think he wins re-election.

      The futility of the situation was pretty much summed up in Krugman’s column of a month ago where he said something had to be done about unemployment but the only things he could come up with were a WPA program (which, of course, would never pass the House), a more robust home loan modification program (which wouldn’t do anything about unemployent in the short run) and creating inflation so as to ease the burden on people who are in debt (which, again, would have no short term effect on unemployment and would probably be very unpopular).

      • If it is at 9% or higher in November of 2012, I don’t think he wins re-election.

        That would mean unemployment actually rising in the year-and-a-half before the election. He would certainly be in trouble if that happened.

        If, however, it continues to fall frustratingly slowly, as per the trend from late 2009 through this spring, he should probably be ok.

        The question is whether last month’s bad news was an actual reversal of the trend, or a blip caused by gas prices.

        • richard says:

          I have no clue whether unemployment will get better or worse. But we’re now at 9.1. If it stays the same, we’re at 9.1 in November of 2012 (so it wouldn’t be rising to get to that level). And I think that level or close to it is catastrophic for Obama’s reelection chances. It has go to come down to 8% or less for him to have a solid argument with the electorate that he has turned the economy around.

          • I think the rate has to be seen to be coming down meaningfully.

            0.1% between now and then won’t be enough. 1% will. In between, where the exact line to count as “meaningfully” is, I don’t know. I do think that other factors, like timing, inflation, and political developments, will have an effect on how much progress counts as good enough.

            • richard says:

              I think we’re in agreement. If it stays at 9 or thereabouts, he’s in trouble. If its below 8, he should be in good shape. Between 8 and 9, I don’t know. Given that there don’t seem to be any governmental options available, its going to come down to whether businesses are convinced of sufficient increase in demand so as to justify new hires.

          • Malaclypse says:

            The IMF says 8.9 at end of 2011, 8.4 at end of 2012, and 7.7 at 2013.

            • Malaclypse says:

              More:

              Those are abysmal numbers that imply that the United States has no imminent prospect of recovering the losses sustained during the recession, and that the American economy has been shunted onto a path of lower growth. As the I.M.F. notes, one important consequence is that millions of Americans would remain unable to find work for years to come.

              • Housing and construction have always led us out of recessions, and that’s just not going to happen this time, because there is still quite a bit of air in housing prices, even as ridiculous numbers of mortgages are already underwater. People can’t sell, so they can’t buy, so they can’t build.

                This, along with the need to reduce the real dollar value of the national debt and the need to provide “lenders” with some motivation to actually lend instead of hoarding cash, are the three main reasons why we need higher inflation. Not crazy-high – just higher than it’s been.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  But since none of those things will happen for some time, I don’t see your grounds for optimism on employment. That is without the austerity budget that will come, and the government default that may.

                • None of those things are the grounds for my “optimism” in thinking that the year-long trend of slow but steady employment growth is going to continue.

                  My “optimism” in thinking that we’re going to see the unemployment rate fall by a little less than 0.1% per month for the next year-and-a-half stems from the fact that private-sector job growth has been doing exactly that for the past year-and-a-half (with just the gas-spike causing a blip), even as the ARRA has wound down.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  While I hope you are right, 0.1% is roughly double the IMF projections.

                • I don’t think the rate will drop at 1.2% per year.

                  More like 0.5-1%.

                  Again, the wild card is the effect of the recent fuel price spike. How fast will prices fall, and how much of the recent dropoff in growth was caused by that spike?

                  We might see faster growth this year than the IMF is predicting if the falling prices cause growth to go back to the rate before May.

        • Murc says:

          You’re not worried about the Republicans kneecaping the economy between now and then, joe?

          I mean, the debt ceiling thing by itself is going to cause enormous damage no matter how it turns out. And they’re FAR from done.

          • I’m worried about the debt ceiling, because a financial panic brought about by a default or the threat of a default could have real-world consequences for the real economy.

            I think there is actual, innate growth going on in the economy now, distinct from government policy. I think that blocking stimulatory spending in late 2011/2012 can reduce the rate of growth, but it isn’t going to result in actual contraction, the way it would have in 2009 or 2010.

    • Murc says:

      Well, it won’t blunt their actually ability to complain about his job-creation record. They’ll complain anyway, and then they’ll complain about how that mean’ol Obama was rude to them which meant they just COULDN’T support his legislation.

      That said, I broadly agree. The Congressional Dems should be proposing massive job creation bills every week and forcing the Republicans to vote against them. And when accused of exploding the deficit, they should answer ‘You’re damn right. We care about jobs more than the deficit. Know how we’ll pay off the deficit? With the revenue from ALL THOSE JOBS.’

      (In my ideal world, after saying this Joe Biden would crash through the wall in his Pontiac Firebird, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi would do hood-slides before climbing in, and they’d head to Vegas. But that’s just me.)

  5. Thomas, Norman says:

    WoW!

    I’ve never seen so much reality here. And the lesson that is learned is RESULTS MATTER. Jawboning only goes so far.

    It’s hard to expect those in power to know how to create jobs. Very few of them have any business experience at all. Most are academics and career government workers.

    I’m hoping whoever gets the job in this next election has the experience we need.

  6. Alan in SF says:

    Once again, we learn that the very idea of political rhetoric has been a hoax all along. Passionately arguing for what you want, and demonizing your opponents for wanting the opposite, is like pissing into the wind. Wavering, low-information voters are never swayed by the intense advocacy of the nation’s most popular elected leader. Leave the field open to the Tea Partiers, and let them merrily waste their time and resources forcefully advocating their positions.

  7. Tirxu says:

    Quite OT, but can someone explain why Ezra Klein start his argument about the fact that what matters isn’t how many jobs you “get caught trying” to create, but how many jobs you actually create with “Let’s agree that what matters isn’t how many jobs you “get caught trying” to create, but how many jobs you actually create”?

    Sounds strange to me.

  8. actor212 says:

    Scott, I think Obama wins (barring a complete meltdown) based on stabilizing the economy, period.

    Bush won re-election on the fact that he created zero jobs by 2004. That’s right: the economy had not created a job for the entire first term. It was until 2Q 2005 that the first positive job growth occured on Bush’s watch.

    Osama and foreign policy trumps the economy in 2012.

    • richard says:

      I would like to believe that but I dont think that is what the reality is. Even if there is no double dip, my perception is that an economy like the one we currently have in November 2012 spells real trouble for the president. This isn’t the recession that we had during Bush’s first term. This has been something far greater and something that has dominated the thinking of much of the electorate. Killing Osama doesn’t counter the uneasiness about the economy that everybody feels and that type of uneasiness is never good for an incumbent.

      • Uncle Kvetch says:

        Killing Osama doesn’t counter the uneasiness about the economy that everybody feels and that type of uneasiness is never good for an incumbent.

        Osama’s killing generated nothing more than a blip in terms of approval ratings, and frankly I think it could turn out to be a net negative…it’s leading lots of people to (rightly) ask WTF we’re still doing in Afghanistan, and why Obama’s “drawdown” will leave as many troops there at the end of his first term as when he took office.

        • Trends trends trends.

          If, as Obama announced, 30,000 troops have been removed from Afghanistan by election day and tens of thousands more are scheduled to come out, the story is about Obama’s withdrawal.

          Ditto with the unemployment rate.

          The trend, and in particular, the recent trend, is much more important that absolute numbers.

          • Furious Jorge says:

            As far as the trend in the unemployment rate, I’m not sure the downward trend is steep enough, and I’m not sure where in the economy Obama is going to find the flexibility to push it down faster.

            I really, really hope he does. But his approach so far has not left me with a lot of confidence.

    • In 2004, foreign policy, the wars, and terrorism were top-tier concerns, and the economy was not.

      Now, and probably in Nov. 2012, the economy is the top-tier concern, and foreign policy/terrorism/the wars barely register.

    • Anonymous says:

      Osama and foreign policy trumps the economy in 2012.

      Everything we know about electoral politics points in the other direction. This is pretty much the opposite of a reality-based viewpoint.

      • This goes both ways.

        “Obama is awesome because he killed Osama!” and “Obama sucks because we’re still in Afghanistan!” and “Obama is awesome because he ended one war and is ending the other!” and “Obama sucks because he ended one war and is ending the other!” and “Obama sucks because we used to be involved in Libya!” are simply not going to be very important in the next election.

        It’s the economy again, stupid.

      • Furious Jorge says:

        Voters don’t give a shit about foreign policy.

    • Malaclypse says:

      Bush won re-election on the fact that he created zero jobs by 2004. That’s right: the economy had not created a job for the entire first term. It was until 2Q 2005 that the first positive job growth occured on Bush’s watch.

      While technically true, let’s compare job losses using The Scariest Chart In The World.

      Now, if we take a ruler and look at trendline on that bad, bad red data, we see that jobs should recover sometime around month 72, give or take a year.

      That assumes nobody does something way beyond stupid, like triggering a debt default by the US.

      • United Fruit Co. Representative says:

        or cutting huge numbers of federal and state jobs to get the debt under control

    • actor212 says:

      I stick by my original statement. I think the American people will cut Obama an awful lot of slack on the economy. They’ll note that what he did probably saved the economy from a much worse beating and given that they basically got rid of the jerk who created the mess in the first place, will tend to keep him in office.

      After all, FDR won re-election on a bad economy in the Great Depression. People aren’t as dumb as we make them out to be.

      • Malaclypse says:

        After all, FDR won re-election on a bad economy in the Great Depression.

        Yes. Let’s look at 1936 compared to 1932, both in terms of employment and GDP. Even though 1936 was awful, it was dramatically better than 1932. Nobody in their right mind could doubt that things had improved by 1936, even if they were still bad.

        In October 2008, U6 was 11.9%, while it is 15.8% now. U3 was 6.6% then, and 9.1% now.

        • In October 2008,

          I don’t think that’s the right date to start measuring. Nobody but devout Republicans think that the job losses in the first half of 2009 were Obama’s fault.

        • actor212 says:

          So you wouldn’t say that things are dramatically better today than in November 2008?

          You look at your stock portfolio lately?

          • The trend is dramatically better now than in Nov 2008, but we still haven’t caught back up in absolute terms, in terms of jobs and wages, and those are the measures that really matter.

          • Malaclypse says:

            So you wouldn’t say that things are dramatically better today than in November 2008?

            No. While things are improving now, and were deteriorating then, pretty much every employment statistic is worse now than it was then.

            You look at your stock portfolio lately?

            You’re funny.

            Yay, the value of my 401(k) has recovered some. In the meantime, I and almost everybody I know makes less money than we did in 2008. Yes, I blame Republican mismanagement for creating the Great Recession. But I don’t know anybody who is better off now than they were at the end of 2008.

            • DrDick says:

              Actually, I am (as long as I do not look at my TIAA-Creff account and that is getting somewhat better), but I generally agree with your points.

              • Malaclypse says:

                I meant worse off on pay, not retirement funds. Most of the people I know took pay cuts, or now have worse jobs.

                • DrDick says:

                  That is what I meant. I got a substantial raise for next academic year. That is, however, a singular event as there have been no routine raises for the past two years for anyone, the university is cutting back on hiring, and the leg cut higher ed funding this last session. There is also the fact that as a non-tenure line faculty, I am grossly underpaid compared to my colleagues (by at least $10K).

                • Malaclypse says:

                  There is also the fact that as a non-tenure line faculty, I am grossly underpaid compared to my colleagues (by at least $10K).

                  You have my sympathies. I remember back in 1999, walking into a Burger King, reading the help wanted poster (for any young ones reading, there were actual jobs in 1999), and realizing that BK paid better, with better bennies, than my full-time teaching gig.

                • DrDick says:

                  I get paid rather more than that and make a decent living, if well below what a tenure track faculty makes (at our lowest paid faculty in the nation university). I am not really bitching. I love my job, have the support and respect of my colleagues (and I think the administration), and get to work with graduate students. I mentioned some time ago that I just graduated my first Ph.D., who is the third in the department. I have four more in the pipeline and could well graduate another next spring. Plus I get to live in western Montana.

      • Anonymous says:

        this argument is, essentially, “the 2012 election will buck a trend in American presidential electoral politics going back a century or more. My evidence is a gut feeling that it’s going to be true”.

        You’re welcome to hold this view, but I can’t fathom why anyone with a functional brain would be tempted to take you seriously.

    • Furious Jorge says:

      Yeah, there is an obvious, glaring difference in general economic conditions between 2004 and now. Failing to create jobs in the worst economic situation of our lifetimes is much, much different from failing to create jobs in the economic and political environment that was 2004.

  9. owlbear1 says:

    Has anyone seen any studies discussing the effects the high unemployment has had on the United States’ greenhouse gas output?

    The near non-existent consumer demand must surely have a reducing effect.

  10. soullite says:

    Shorter Scott Lemieux: Obama won’t get any credit for trying so why bother?

    • soullite says:

      Plus, you know, it did help FDR. Then again, he didn’t just run around making speeches. He did stuff. A lot of it failed, but he was doing stuff and most of it was blatantly illegal under the law as it was understood in 1933. You know what happened? The law changed to account for it because it was massively popular.

      Then again, you can sit around and hope for magic GDP growth of the 5-7% you’d need every quarter from now until election day. 4% didn’t help GHWB, even less of GDP growth filters down to normal folks, and Obama barely manages half of GHWB’s numbers. He’s toast. There isn’t time or any engine of growth to that could provide what he needs to get reelected.

      So yeah. It’s too late to do anything different, but don’t pretend that he couldn’t have. I guess Neoliberalism cannot fail; it can only be failed.

  11. wengler says:

    Obama’s major problem is that his economic team was wildly optimistic about the shallowness of the economic depression. They predicted lower unemployment WITHOUT the stimulus by now. They were completely wrong.

    Also remember that this economy is actually growing. Alongside unemployment. The way the economy is structured is not helping the vast majority of people. Our economy has been re-wired to centralize capital as efficiently and effectively as possible. This means that most people are shit out of luck.

    Also the government is about to pass a massive austerity program that will put millions of more people out of work.

  12. soullite says:

    Also: There is no time for the economy to improve. GHWB got decent growth throughout 1992 and it didn’t help him because it didn’t filter down to most people. Even less of GDP growth goes to wages and benefits today, so I doubt it would help Obama much.

    When people talk about the kind of growth that might help Obama pull this out, they are talking about 6-7% for every quarter from now until election day. Good luck with that.

    • There’s a big difference between this situation and George H.W. Bush’s though. The downturn in the economy that harmed Bush so much occurred on his watch, years into his term.

      Whereas this time, the downturn not only preceded Obama’s term, but was a big issue in the election in 2008. This makes his situation more similar to that of Reagan, or FDR.

      • Malaclypse says:

        While factually true, consider how many people “remember” that September 11 happened on Clinton’s watch, while we never had a terrorist attack under Bush.

        • A segment of hardcore partisans whose votes wouldn’t be up for grabs under and circumstances?

          • er, “any circumstances,” that is.

          • Malaclypse says:

            Or a segment of low-information swing voters? In 2012, a first-time voter would have been 7 years old on 9-11.

            • hv says:

              Spare us the hand-waving about hardcore partisans.

              Over 1/3 of members of all parties have the timing wrong on TARP. Wanna bet they don’t have a clear understanding on the timing of when the economy went south?

              “Just 36% of Republicans, 35% of independents and 34% of Democrats know that the government bailout of banks and financial institutions was signed into law by former President Bush.”
              (link)

              • Hell, yes, I’ll take that bet. Seen today’s McClatchy poll, that the stupid comment software doesn’t seem to want to let me post?

                • This one.

                  Has anyone ever seen the word “handwaving” used except as a disrespectful way of saying “correct statement that makes my tummy hurt?”

                • Malaclypse says:

                  The one that says the only Republican Obama clearly beats is Sarah Palin?

                  According to this McClatchy-Marist Poll, a plurality of registered voters nationally say they plan to vote against President Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  Okay, Joe’s poll was encouraging. However:
                  Although Americans are upset about the economy, 61% of those polled still think that Obama inherited the recession.

                  So 39% don’t think that. That’s a lot more than just “devout Republicans.” That is a lot of people who are wrong on what should be basic fact.

                • I don’t know what poll you’re talking about, but the one you linked to show Obama clearly beating every candidate in the field by an amount larger than the margin of error.

                • So 39% don’t think that.

                  39%, which includes “no answers,” “don’t knows,” and “boths.”

                  What’s more, only 30% of Republicans – you know, hardcore partisans, booga booga – blamed Bush, meaning that the numbers among Democrats and Independents blaming him were overwhelming.

                • hv says:

                  Ok, so those numbers match mine. What were the stakes on our bet?

                  Around 1/3 is fundamentally confused as I represented, and your link offers nothing useful about “hardcore partisans.”

                  Joe, any time I accuse you of hand-waving, it is far easier to just present the evidence that supports your assertions. If you don’t have said evidence, feel free to complain about my word choices; but your lack of evidence will be eventually revealed (I am nothing if not persistent) and your tantrums over word choice will then seem hollow.

                  ========

                  “Correct statements that make my tummy hurt” made Kurt Godel a genius. Paying attention to what is provable, as well as what is correct, leads to great insights. Try it sometime, you might like it!

                • Ok, so those numbers match mine…Around 1/3 is fundamentally confused as I represented,

                  No, your poll shows only 1/3 knowing the correct answer (that TARP began under Bush).

                  Mine shows only 1/3 believing the wrong answer (blaming Obama for the recession).

                  Quite a different situation.

                  and your link offers nothing useful about “hardcore partisans.”

                  I apologize for assuming common sense on your part. Here is a report about the same poll, that identifies that only 30% of Republicans blame Bush, thus demonstrating that the 61% overall number comes from overwhelming numbers among everyone else.

                  And I will criticize your word choice as long as you continue to be an asshole to me, and it is so amusingly easy to get you to put your neck out and assert that I don’t have any evidence, so that I can then do this.

                • Paying attention to what is provable, as well as what is correct, leads to great insights. Try it sometime, you might like it!

                  Shorter hv: I’m going to accuse joe of making stuff up without knowing what he’s talking about. This cannot possibly turn out badly for me!

                • hv says:

                  Here is a report about the same poll, that identifies that only 30% of Republicans blame Bush, thus demonstrating that the 61% overall number comes from overwhelming numbers among everyone else.

                  (emph. added)

                  I’m sorry, is your definition of “hardcore partisan” equivalent to just plain old “republican”?

                  You’re joking.

                  Your attempt to double down on the hand-waving has led you into begging the question. Stop digging, bro. I assume this little disco is a tacit admission that your source really doesn’t say anything about hardcore-ness. ‘Cause we would’ve seen the quote by now, eh? If I’m wrong, just toss the quote right out there. I know you want to, show me up, bro!

                  Has anyone ever seen the word “handwaving” used except as a disrespectful way of saying “correct statement that makes my tummy hurt?”
                  statement whose correctness can only be appreciated when a tortured definition of “hardcore partisan” is used.

                  FTFY.

                  Actually, I could’ve left that tummy hurt part in there, I guess. Your attempt to back me off the word choice of “hand-waving” has back-fired. In retrospect, I feel very justified in doing so. Glad we started keeping score. I will be happy to link back to here the next time you protest my use of the word. My thanks.

                  Shorter hv: I’m going to accuse joe of making stuff up without knowing what he’s talking about. This cannot possibly turn out badly for me!

                  The funny thing is, there is an absolutely foolproof counter to my strategy. Stop making things up. When you do, stop doubling down on them. Without your help, I would have no traction.

                • hv says:

                  Tiny little side point:

                  as long as you continue to be an asshole to me

                  Wait, I thought

                  when someone makes an argument that you disagree with, you address the argument and explain what’s wrong with it, or write nothing at all, and I’ll do the same.

                  Didn’t even last a week. I owe IB a beer now. Lame.

                  Sorry you are the

                  victim

                  of me being an asshole to you, bro!

                • I’m sorry, is your definition of “hardcore partisan” equivalent to just plain old “republican”?

                  Since I quoted a statement showing that 30% of Republicans answered the question correctly, clearly not.

                  Wow, that’s an awfully long, snotty comment to base on such an easily-corrected mistake.

                • hv says:

                  Joe, I had no idea you were still sneaking back to this thread. Awesome! But I fear that your haitus has caused you to lose track of the two different sets of goalposts, and invent your own.

                  Since I quoted a statement showing that 30% of Republicans answered the question correctly, clearly not.

                  But you were quoting it in response to a request for any evidence of “hardcore partisans.” Here, allow me to refresh your memory about the goalpost, dumbass.

                  =======

                  So let me know when you have any evidence about partisanship. I agree your statement was merely along party lines. That’s why it didn’t exonerate you from the charges of hand-waving.

                  Or are you willing to cop to the hand-waving, and we’re just debating about the numbers now?

              • hv says:

                Over 1/3 of members of all parties have the timing wrong on TARP. Wanna bet they don’t have a clear understanding on the timing of when the economy went south?

                Mine shows only 1/3 believing the wrong answer (blaming Obama for the recession).

                I am confused. Sounds like a match to me. What number would’ve proven my case?

                • Yes, you are confused. OK, I’ll explain it again.

                  2/3 is not 1/3.

                  2/3 of the public answered the question about who to blame for the recession correctly.

                  Only 1/3 answered the question about TARP timing correctly.

                  What’s the problem here? Are you having difficultly understanding the conception difference between “correct” and “incorrect?”

                • What number would’ve proven my case?

                  1/3 would have proven your case, if only 1/3 of respondents had answered the recession-blame question correctly, the way only 1/3 of respondents answered the TARP question correctly.

                  But since 2/3 of respondents answered the recession-blame question correctly, the poll disproves your point.

                • hv says:

                  I understand that I originally misstated the numbers. Do you understand my point? I am quoting the bet. You are winning an imaginary bet.

                  Allow me to refer you to the governing precedent of Simpson v. Flanders, which states that “the father of the boy who does not win shall mow the neighbor’s lawn in his wife’s Sunday dress.”

            • Or a segment of low-information swing voters? In 2012, a first-time voter would have been 7 years old on 9-11.

              Unless something very dramatic has happened without anybody noticing, first-time voters are the last people Obama has to worry about.

              • Malaclypse says:

                Unless something very dramatic has happened without anybody noticing, first-time voters are the last people Obama has to worry about.

                Something dramatic did happen. That first-time voter has a 21.9% U3 rate.

                • And, probably because they understand who caused the recession, they are still a solid voting bloc for Obama.

                  Polling that breaks down by age shows that he has the same dominant lead among the youngest voters that he enjoyed in 2008.

                • Furious Jorge says:

                  But do they understand that, Joe? I teach economics to exactly that group, and if my students are any guide, your assumption is not self-evident.

                • I dunno, Jorge.

                  What I do know is that the absolute last voting bloc that Obama has to worry is are people between the ages of 18 and 21.

  13. Reality Check says:

    glad to see some liberals are waking up. I love that chart too, Malaclypse, makes a good contrast when joey blows sunshine up people’s asses about the economy.

  14. Reality Check says:

    So, Malaclypse, you’re ready to admit that the GOP will win and win big in 2012?

  15. Anonymous says:

    This thread demonstrates, once again, that:

    Global warming denialism: right :: deep faith in the (strangely unused) transformative power of presidential rhetoric : left.

  16. Thomas,,,Norman says:

    glad to see some liberals are waking up.

    Glad to see someone with some sense on this board..

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