Bush vs. Obama: Unemployment (January 2012 Jobs Data)

Change in Total Private Employment (in thousands), Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Update: Click here for the most recent jobs statistics.

On the first Friday of every month, I update the unemployment numbers so that I can compare the unemployment rate under President George W. Bush with the unemployment rate under President Obama at that time. The genesis of this ritual began when I felt compelled to respond to some left-leaning sites that were comparing Obama’s first two years and four months in office with Bush’s last and worst economic year (the above chart shows the most recent incarnation of this narrative).

In January, the private sector added a robust 257,000 jobs in the twenty-third consecutive month of private sector job growth. This development is very positive news. The country also had a net employment gain of 243,000 total jobs (private and public). More importantly, 243,000 exceeds the 125,000 jobs needed each month just to keep pace with the growth of the working-age population, which is also very encouraging news.

More importantly, January 2012 is the first month in which the overall number of jobs lost during the Obama administration is lower than the number lost during the Bush administration. That said, the unemployment rate is still about a percentage point worse today than it was during President Bush’s last full month in office.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined from 8.5% to 8.3% — the second lowest month of unemployment during the Obama presidency. This number remains 1.0 percentage points worse than President Bush’s last full month in office in December 2008. It also marks 36 consecutive months in which the unemployment rate has been 8% or higher in the 37th month of the Obama presidency.

Unemployment Rate, Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

That said, the unemployment rate only accounts for the percentage of the unemployed who are actively seeking employment. It does not include people who have given up on finding jobs. The month ended with more people employed at the end of January than were employed at the end of December, and the civilian labor force actually grew, though not as fast as the number of new employees entering the work force. Therefore, the main reason unemployment declined is that the numerator (the number of employed Americans) increased faster than the denominator (the civilian labor force) in the unemployment equation increased.

The civilian labor force ended January at 154.4 million vs. December’s 153.9 million. 141.6 million people had jobs in January, which was an increase of about 847,000 people from December versus about 508,000 people who entered the labor force.

Both the Bush and Obama presidencies have been marked by a steady decline in the labor force participation rate. The labor force participation rate measures the number of people in the labor force as a percentage of the total working-age population. The labor force participation rate declined by 0.3 percentage points from 64.0% in December to 63.7% in January.

Labor Force Participation Rate, Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic

Putting the Numbers into Perspective

The employment statistics during President Bush’s period in office continue to look better than those under President Obama’s to date. Over President Bush’s tenure, the private sector lost a net 646,000 jobs, assuming that he gets credit for all jobs lost in January 2009 and none for those lost in January 2001. I changed my methodology in response to a left-leaning blogger‘s fair point “that CES estimates represent information reported by survey respondents for their pay periods that include the 12th of the month.” Hence, any subsequent numbers for jobs created near the end of January would likely appear in the February numbers.

If one attributes the first 19 days of January 2009’s job losses to Bush, and the remaining 11 days of job losses to Obama, the private sector shed 339,000 jobs during the Bush administration (the private sector gained a net 147,000 jobs if one attributes all of January 2009’s job numbers to Obama, and all of January 2001’s numbers to Bush). Surprisingly, this number includes the 3.78 million private sector jobs lost in 2008, and an additional 839,000 in 2009 (514,000 if one attributes the first 19 days of January 2009’s job losses to Bush).

Change in Total Private Employment (in thousands), Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

In contrast, under President Obama’s administration, the private sector has still lost a net 549,000 private sector jobs (874,000 if one attributes the remaining 11 days of job losses in January 2009 to Obama, and 1.39 million if one attributes all of January 2009’s losses to him).

Again, the point of this argument is not to assess blame on either administrations’ policy. It simply puts the numbers into perspective.

For each job the private sector cut under George W. Bush, the private sector eliminated ~0.9 jobs under Barack Obama (if one attributes January 2009’s job losses to Obama, the private sector eliminated ~9 jobs for every job it created under Bush). While the private sector job outlook has improved recently, the economy still must create 549,000 private sector jobs to break even.

The country still has a long way to go to restoring full employment and the President is running out of time. According to The New York Times, no sitting President since Franklin Roosevelt has won re-election when unemployment was over 7.2% on election day.

And President Obama is no FDR.

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About Sean Patrick Hazlett

Conservative clean energy crusader, national security hawk, financial analyst, engineer, and former military officer.
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129 Responses to Bush vs. Obama: Unemployment (January 2012 Jobs Data)

  1. Pingback: Bush vs. Obama: Unemployment (November 2011 Jobs Data) | Reflections of a Rational Republican

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  11. Why Do Average Reasoning People Think They're In The Top 1% of Reasoning Ability? says:

    “That said, the unemployment rate is still about a percentage point worse today than it was during President Bush’s last full month in office.”

    I’m in the middle of a disaster. The person currently responsible is doing a terrible job and the disaster continues getting worse. People are dying. A new person is appointed for the position, but the second he takes over he is suddenly responsible for all the people that die from that point on?

    Having made this post monthly for a while now, you’ve apparently never noticed the spike that occurs from Aug 08 to Oct 09 and the period after. You’ve also apparently not noticed the shape of the graph that takes places from Aug 01 to Mar 02 and then the period after. Seems as if there’s a rapid spike followed by a slowly decreasing trend, but hey, who notices those kinds of things around here? (Evidently not you.)

    What’s ridiculous is that in a previous post you decided to add January 09 after some objections from readers or whomever, as if THAT was the only problem with your methodology. What’s more embarrassing is adding bold and italics to emphasize the takeaway message after making those kind of reasoning blunders.

    Maybe you should change the name of your website to “Reflections of a Republican with Average Reasoning Abilities and No Useful Insight.” It would be much more fitting.

    • “I’m in the middle of a disaster. The person currently responsible is doing a terrible job and the disaster continues getting worse. People are dying. A new person is appointed for the position, but the second he takes over he is suddenly responsible for all the people that die from that point on?”

      Actually, if you were a general, that is exactly how you would be assessed. But hey, you came up with this absurd analogy, I didn’t.

      “Having made this post monthly for a while now, you’ve apparently never noticed the spike that occurs from Aug 08 to Oct 09 and the period after. You’ve also apparently not noticed the shape of the graph that takes places from Aug 01 to Mar 02 and then the period after. Seems as if there’s a rapid spike followed by a slowly decreasing trend, but hey, who notices those kinds of things around here? (Evidently not you.)”

      Yes, I noticed the spike that coincides with recessions. What point are you trying to make?

      “What’s ridiculous is that in a previous post you decided to add January 09 after some objections from readers or whomever, as if THAT was the only problem with your methodology. What’s more embarrassing is adding bold and italics to emphasize the takeaway message after making those kind of reasoning blunders.”

      Please, enlighten me on the problems with my methodology and my “reasoning blunders.”

      “Maybe you should change the name of your website to “Reflections of a Republican with Average Reasoning Abilities and No Useful Insight.” It would be much more fitting.”

      Until you make an assertion backed by facts and evidence rather than ad hominem, I think I will pass.

      • bob cobb says:

        i am no fan of bush, but compared to this president, yes he is the good old days…today we learned we will no longer enforce deporting illegals, no congress didnt rescind our laws czar obama did, thank god this november we the people must and will speak out aganist tyranny….God bless america

        • Scott says:

          Obama Administration Sets Deportation Record

          The Obama administration set a new record for deportations, removing nearly 400,000 undocumented immigrants in the last fiscal year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced on Tuesday.

          The agency removed 396,906 undocumented immigrants from the United States in the 2011 fiscal year, a slight increase from the previous year’s 392,826 removals. Administration officials said the increase is the result of a continued focus on policing undocumented immigration, a rebuttal to claims by GOP presidential candidates and others who say the president has been too soft on unauthorized immigration.

          • mytorpor says:

            Obama’s deportation numbers are badly inflated and have been since the day his administration decided to count those they turn around at the border as “deportations”. Under all past presidents, these were not counted in deportation numbers. Obama’s real deportation numbers are pathetic and getting worse!

          • ourheights says:

            When the numbers that cross the border increase at a rate not seen in this modern age, the stat you mention has no bearing in the comparison. If he only deported a small percentage of illegals, it would still be a big number considering he hasn’t been stopping the bleeding of illegals entering the country. Call Immigration and Customs Enforcement and ask what percentage of those entering illegally are being shipped back home?

    • ralphq says:

      yikes, u r retarded. examine your lack of logic and rational thinking.

      • darr247 says:

        Wow, ralphq… I am laid waste by your scathingly germane rebuttal. The ad hominem in your response was most certainly at the highest level of intellectual discussion anyone here has ever had the privilege of witnessing. Now I will be forced to reevaluate all of my opinions and reverse my positions. Where, oh, where is my etch-a-sketch?

        Don’t forget the TEA party meeting tonight.

  12. Chris says:

    Pretty simple to me. If I got to choose a President with the blue bars or the President with the red bars, I take the blue bars every time. Looks to me a like the trend would’ve been a continued freefall, but instead the blue bars immediately showed a change in the positive direction & have stabilized in a good (but not great) place.

    Everything else is just spin and politics.

    • Chris,

      I think the left will point to the private sector job chart and claim that Obama helped reverse a declining trend, while the right will point to the continued high unemployment rate and 31-year low labor force participation rate as examples of why people should not reelect Obama.

      Either way, both sides will probably ignore the fact that the factors governing employment are a lot more complex than a single President’s policies can account for.

      • Darr247 says:

        As baby boomers continue to retire, the labor force participation rate will continue to decline, regardless of who’s president. Your assertion of that somehow being being the president’s or democrats’ fault is a wholly false premise.

        When social security began paying benefits in 1940, the average life expectancy in the USA was about 63, and now it’s about 78
        (see http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/NOTES/as120/images/LifeTables_Body-2a.gif ).
        It was in the 1950s when it turned into a ponzi scheme because the eligibility age was never increased even though life expectancy increased dramatically.

        So to ‘fix’ social security and medicare, the eligibilty age needs to be increased by one year every-other-year for the next 30 years. And it needs to be started NOW, not 50 years in the future as the chickencrap politicians keep proposing. And not totally dismantled and handed to companies like AIG as Paul Ryan’s proposal wanted to do.

        The money has already been spent, and it wasn’t solely “tax and spend liberals” that ran up the bill. If you check on http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/mspd/mspd.htm – the national debt more than TRIPLED under Reagan, and Bush43 doubled it after inheriting a surplus then deciding not to pay down that debt but to have a party with the money instead. Now Obama’s dealing with the hangover from that party.

        • Darr247,

          You make a fair point that much of the decline in the labor force participation rate is due to baby boomer retirements. Some of it is likely also due to people leaving the labor force to go back to school, and some of it is because of people leaving the labor force because they’ve just stopped looking for jobs. To your point, the labor force participation rate also declined inexorably under President George W. Bush as well.

          I also agree that both parties have been spending like drunken sailors.

          Lastly, I think raising the retirement age ever other year sounds like a great solution. It is certainly better than increasing taxes on the young poor to feed the mostly wealthy old.

        • mytorpor says:

          Our elderly are taking early retirement because they have lost the jobs they had and it is almost impossible for someone within five years of retirement to find a job! And they are retiring with years less in their retirement accounts than they had been counting on, so they are being forced to turn to food stamps and other government programs for aid, when they would not have if they had been able to work to their planned retirement age!

        • Barry McPhail says:

          This comment falls prey to a basic fallacy of demographics: most of the rise in life expectancy at birth comes from a decline in infant mortality, not lengthened life spans on the other end of the curve. Deriving a policy of increasing age of eligibility from this statistical misapprehension is a serious error.

          Second point: guys in offices shuffling paper can certainly extend their working life. Not so much working stiffs whose jobs are body-punishing and who could be said to need the retirement income most of all. Delaying the age of eligibility for them simply increases the number of years they must find SOMETHING to do before SS eligibility.

          • Darr247 says:

            Whether the average was raised by less people dying young or more people living longer, the fact is SS and medicare are currently being run as ponzi schemes. There are 2 ways to cure that… either raise the eligibility age by a year every-other-year for the next 30-years or drastically increase the amounts being deducted from paychecks for FICA-SS and FICA-HI.

            As to your second point, if someone cannot continue doing their jobs until retirement eligibility, then they get disability benefits from SS.

      • GaryB says:

        But, I don’t think you can ignore the basic policy choice of whether a government should try to stimulate an economy during a recession/depression or not. I think though, we have a moderately clear case: The US pursue a policy of stimulus (though quite a bit less than suggested) while Europe has been much more on the austerity side (though again, less than they wanted since there were bailouts). The clear winner is stimulus and so on the central policy difference, better the democrats than the republicans for economic policy to get us out.

        • Gary,

          My apologies for the delay. I think you might be oversimplifying the policy differences between the US and Europe. Much of the reason Europe has a worse problem than the US is that Europe’s economic union is not matched by a political union as it is in the US. Therefore, the Greeks can pursue reckless social welfare policies like providing full retirement benefits for workers at age 55 (similar to policies Democrats would support in this country if they could ever get away with it), without worrying that more fiscally conservative countries like Germany will check them (until recently, the Germans couldn’t, because Germans cannot elect German politicians.

          The bottom line is that some European countries got into the crisis precisely by supporting lavish social welfare policies that Democrats love.

          Moreover, the European country that is doing the best is not tied to the Euro and has embarked on some of the most aggressive austerity programs. That country, Britain is not doing as poorly as many of the others. Contrast Britain vs. Ireland for instance.

          I do agree that a stimulus was necessary. I also think it was the right size. I also agree that many Republicans are wrong to decry it. That said, while Obama successfully halted the decline, he clearly has no idea how to help the private sector take the baton and drive growth. Instead, he has pursued policies that have impeded growth. Obamacare is one example. The extended moratorium on offshore drilling is another. The Dodd-Frank Law has also raised the cost of lending, etc. In summary, I’d rather take my chances on someone with at least a day in the business world rather than take four more years of anemic economic growth with Obama.

      • Holy cow! You have given me hope that rational republicans still exist. Thank you so much!

        Amidst all the hatred and bigotry, and occasional subtle (and not so subtle) racism, I was beginning to believe that all Republicans were demented.

        BTW, I do not label myself as either Left/Right/Democrat/Republican (or any of the other silly labels). But it seems clear that any rational person should clearly see:
        a) The ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ are cyclical on most metrics (i.e. unemployment and job creation, GDP, Stock market, Income growth) – Question is: Is it a coincidence that the Democrats are always in the favorable part of the cycle? I don’t know!
        b) In regards to unemployment, any rational person can see that unemployment was already on a steep rise BEFORE Obama took office. Furthermore, any rational person would understand that slowing down and reversing that trend is like stopping a freight train; or more accurately, a huge number of other indicators are involved. It is not simply a matter of one or even two dozen decisions made by one or even two dozen people.
        c) Any rational person would understand that Obama took office at one of the worst economic times in not only U.S. history but world history. The U.S. wasn’t the only country that went into recession but it fared better than many others. A number of economists believe that Obama’s administration actually made a lot of correct decisions (RE: Detroit) when Republican’s would have done the opposite.

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/obama-jobs-plan-economists-give-good-reviews-but-say-more-needed-on-mortgage-debt/2011/09/09/gIQAYJm9FK_story.html

        http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/03/10312358-did-obama-make-the-economy-worse-not-according-to-most-statistics?lite

        There are way more references… Google them!

        It is time for EVERYONE to stop taking sides and start looking at the facts. I know, easy said than done!

        • Woodjef says:

          If you want everyone to look at the facts then we have to admit that Bush was facing a decline in the economy from the dot com bubble burst just prior to his taking office, then 8 months after taking office we had this little event called 9/11 that nearly destroyed the airline and travel industry and sent consumer spending into a tailspin. The facts are that tax cuts for all levels of wage earners actually increased the revenue flow into the federal treasury, the facts are also that Bush got caught in the same trap that every other politician does………spend more and people will like and vote for me. Spending increased faster than revenue increased and voila, deficits grow.

          • VR Kaine says:

            How soon we seem to forget those tough years leading up to 9/11! I was in another country and still felt the impact of the tech bubble bursts on my business. That was a big burst and things were tough all-around.

          • Barry McPhail says:

            Unfortunately, Woodjef cites facts that just are not facts. The Bush tax cuts were absolutely not negated by rising tax revenue from economic growth. On the contrary, they are a major cause of the present deficit because, as usual, the opposite is true: they represent a drop in revenue WITHOUT a corresponding increase in revenues because of an ensuing stimulus.

  13. But don’t you think with the damage the collapse of the mortgage industry caused that no matter who came into office for the next term that it would be a very hard and tedious job to pull this country out of it’s demise? And with so many companies now out-sourcing jobs, this only adds to the difficulty of knocking down our unemployment numbers.

    • Absolutely. I also think President Obama took the right steps at the beginning of his Presidency (i.e., passing the stimulus). That said, I think the uncertainty he created about the future cost of hiring new employees because of the healthcare bill, as well as wasting valuable political capital to get it passed, was a strategic mistake when there was persistently high unemployment. The economy should have been President Obama’s number one priority for the last three years. The economy was his priority in 2009, then healthcare took over in 2010. When you are trying to stop a ship from sinking, it is unwise to shift your attention to learning how to play a fiddle.

      As such, I think Obama deserves some share of the blame (as does Bush, clearly), though both men were more captive to a complex interaction of economic variables that had little to do with either president.

      My view is that President Obama could have done a better job at the margin. His first steps were positive (the stimulus), but I believe he got distracted by other priorities (healthcare).

      • I think one of the biggest problems we have now in our government is the refusal for the parties to work together – as a whole. They both have good ideas, and they both have horrible ideas… but the finger-pointing, mud-slinging has to stop; agree that they disagree; and forge ahead for the betterment of our future. Not a single one of them is without fault. I would have much more respect when a mistake is admitted than I do when a finger is pointed at someone else.

          • GaryB says:

            I agree that Obama should have pushed off health care hell to his 2nd term, it would have been politically and economically a wiser thing to do. I do not think the blame is equal between both parties. I think Republicans made a Faustian bargain to take the South away from Democrats by co-opting rural religious whites. It worked but in return, they ate the republicans brains.

            We can no longer talk about government industrial policy because it’s all “socialism” … even when the evidence is that government policy can work great (computer chips, GPS, Internet …). If you want to know why Germany and Japan make the world’s robot arms when the US invented them … it’s because their govs had a policy, ours couldn’t. Under Obama, there’s a policy again and we’re just starting to see results of a come back. We can no longer discuss raising revenues despite the fact that the high tax 50s and 60s were high growth and the low tax late 90s to now have been low growth.

            It’s worse than that because I suspect that both markets AND governments tend towards monopolistic excess and it’s only by balancing them off against each other that both work.

            But, republicans have been running against the very idea of government itself. But the ancient Greeks already described that state: the war of all against all. I’d be voting republican early and often if they would say a balance of powers and a balance of growth of gov vs contracting gov is the real goal to shoot for.

  14. Scott Erb says:

    Or one could say that the job growth chart now for Obama is starting to look similar to that during the time jobs grew under Bush, while the two each have one slice of the normal curve of the recessionary job dip. Remove the red and blue and just give the data and one would say, “well, the recession followed a normal curve, job growth isn’t great but similar to what it was back before the recession” and conclude that this was an expected set of conditions. What will be interesting is if the recovery takes hold and you get a steep spike in jobs in the summer. That might depend on oil prices, so as long as nothing spooks the oil markets…

  15. Ed Harrar says:

    Sean, A couple of things. It seems your always comparing 8 years of Bush to 3 years of Obama. You say the unemployment rate is still one percentage point higher then when Bush left office. How is that fair? Obama has created more jobs in 3 years then Bush did in 8 and that is with a Republican party that gave him no help at all. Also Republicans always blame Clinton for 9/11, not Bush, so why doesn’t Obama get a 9 month grace period on job loss (4.5 million jobs) which would change his job numbers dramatically . Okay lets just use the first 4 months or 3.5 million lost jobs. Next and a little off the subject but would appreciate your answer. Santorum and Romney want to overturn Roe vs Wade which would then mandate that abortions are illegel. How come they favor that government mandate but against Obamacares government mandate that we all must have health insurance? They want less government but then turn around and want the government to mandate no abortions. Both sides of their mouths is what I see.

    • “You say the unemployment rate is still one percentage point higher then when Bush left office. How is that fair?”

      It has nothing to do with fairness. This is simply a statement of fact.

      “Obama has created more jobs in 3 years then Bush did in 8″

      That’s not true. What is true is that fewer private sector jobs have been lost under three years of the Obama presidency, then under 8 years of President Bush. Again, this is simply a statement of fact without any subjective judgment.

      “Also Republicans always blame Clinton for 9/11, not Bush, so why doesn’t Obama get a 9 month grace period on job loss (4.5 million jobs) which would change his job numbers dramatically . Okay lets just use the first 4 months or 3.5 million lost jobs.”

      All I am doing in this post is simply cataloging the number of private sector jobs lost when each respective President was in office, not assigning credit or blame. I’ll let Republicans and Democrats do that.

      “Santorum and Romney want to overturn Roe vs Wade which would then mandate that abortions are illegel. How come they favor that government mandate but against Obamacares government mandate that we all must have health insurance? They want less government but then turn around and want the government to mandate no abortions. Both sides of their mouths is what I see.”

      I deliberately avoid this topic on my blog, because abortion is one of those things where it is impossible to convince the other of the righteousness of their cause.

      Many Democrats would see denial of an abortion as an infringement on the right for a women to choose what happens to her body. Many Republicans see abortion as sanctioned murder of an innocent life. A Republican would argue that it is perfectly reasonable and proper that one citizen cannot murder another one, especially one who is defenseless. The argument is simple. Murder is illegal; abortion is murder; therefore abortion should be illegal. For Obamacare, the argument is that the government ought not be able to force someone to buy a product they don’t want. Personally, the individual mandate is the only thing I actually like about Obamacare, because it is the only provision that will actually reduce costs by expanding the risk pool.

      • mad proust says:

        “A Republican would argue that it is perfectly reasonable and proper that one citizen cannot murder another one, especially one who is defenseless. ”

        why does this republican position in favor of eradicating a woman’s free will evaporate in discussion of the death penalty which is widely supported and was wildly cheered by republicans during the republican debates?

        any reply that the death penalty is not inflicted by an individual, but by the ‘state’ and therefore avoids “the citizen murdering another defenseless citizen” scenario can be countered by the equally correct, but equally inane statement that most abortions are done by employees of a corporation and thus avoids “the citizen murdering another defenseless citizen” argument. final argument on this point, to quote mitt romney, “corporations are people my friend”, but corporations still aren’t citizens, so the argument used by the anti-choice, pro-death penalty faction is easily used by the pro-choice, anti-death penalty faction. rhetoric is a two-edged sword, but I keep seeing the republicans use it like a butter knife and give themselves some pretty bad boo-boos.

        the arguments of the current republican party in supporting their current positions on economic policy, social policy, and foreign policy are so often irrational, illogical and disingenuous, that it unfortunately taints the entirety of all their positions.

        here are some specific and current fails of rational and logical thought on the part of the republicans:

        economic policy: cutting tax rates for the top 1% does not stimulate job growth (per david stockman, the former policy wonk for president reagan who has disavowed the republican economic policies, bush 41 of the infamous voodoo economics quote and per multiple nobel laureates in economics: stiglitz, krugman, passarides, diamond, et al.).

        social policy: how can someone proclaim themselves to be “pro-life” and also for the death penalty? cognitive dissonance is not fun to watch.

        foreign policy: russia is the number one geo-political threat according to the de facto republican presidential nominee earlier this week and remind me again why we spent almost 4 trillion dollars in iraq? no link to 9-11, and everything else is just an excuse for some really excellent war profiteering.

        you present as a polite person, and perhaps you are rational in your private life, but I have to question why your blog only seems to go back to 2011. curious as to where was your rationality in the summer of 2008 when the financial meltdown was revealed, or in 2003 when the iraq war was implemented?

        final question, why do you think bush 43 doesn’t get asked to do more promotion for fellow republicans?

        • “social policy: how can someone proclaim themselves to be “pro-life” and also for the death penalty? cognitive dissonance is not fun to watch.”

          I actually agree with you here that Republicans who support the death penalty, but decry abortion are inconsistent. That said, the converse of this statement is also true: Democrats who favor abortion but are against the death penalty are also logically inconsistent. Sadly, it is only a religious institution (the Catholic church) that has a consistent policy for both (i.e., both are wrong).

          “economic policy: cutting tax rates for the top 1% does not stimulate job growth (per david stockman, the former policy wonk for president reagan who has disavowed the republican economic policies, bush 41 of the infamous voodoo economics quote and per multiple nobel laureates in economics: stiglitz, krugman, passarides, diamond, et al.).”

          I agree with you here. That said, most Democrats distort the Bush tax cuts, which applied to all tax brackets, not just the top 1%.

          “foreign policy: russia is the number one geo-political threat according to the de facto republican presidential nominee earlier this week and remind me again why we spent almost 4 trillion dollars in iraq? no link to 9-11, and everything else is just an excuse for some really excellent war profiteering.”

          I agree that Romney has little clue when it comes to foreign affairs. That said, the current election is predominately about finding ways to generate economic growth and reduce unemployment. After nearly 3.5 years, it is clear that Obama’s policies have failed. We need a new direction and more pro-growth policies from an administration filled with former business leaders rather than theoretic academics who’ve never operated a business.

          “you present as a polite person, and perhaps you are rational in your private life, but I have to question why your blog only seems to go back to 2011. curious as to where was your rationality in the summer of 2008 when the financial meltdown was revealed, or in 2003 when the iraq war was implemented?”

          I started this blog in 2011 in response to some of the less rational elements of my own party. The financial meltdown was the result of a complicated set of events set into motion by policies of both parties, as well as a period of loose Fed policy (which the fed has necessarily continued during the Obama administration). Moreover, the reasons for the 2003 Iraq War were more nuanced and complicated than most Americans have been led to believe. The intelligence was clearly wrong, but nearly every American politician as well as members of the military believed it. Clinton bombed Iraq in 1998 because of it. To pin claim that Bush “lied” about this intelligence is in itself a lie.

          “why does this republican position in favor of eradicating a woman’s free will evaporate in discussion of the death penalty which is widely supported and was wildly cheered by republicans during the republican debates? ”

          How does protecting one defenseless human being from another human being murdering it eradicate a woman’s free will, when that woman’s free will was the reason the defenseless human came into existence in the first place?

          • Iain Stewart says:

            Sean – You do seem to be a rational Republican, and I believe that with more folks like you in the Republican ranks, Democrats and Republicans would be able to establish a good operational consensus on every issue confronting today’s US economy as well as the world economy. HOWEVER, forgive me for asking, but how can you begin to tolerate the assorted granola characters (i.e. flakes, fruits and nuts) who seem to have crawled from the nearest right-wing gutter to exploit their brand of phony populism. Even your party’s chosen candidate keeps repeating the same inane lies as though constant repetition will make them true (a trick he may have learned from that master of repetition, the limbo man!).
            I’ve got to confess that in common with many of my independent friends, I would regard myself as being ‘middle of the road’, unafraid of compromise and eager to find policies that can help a struggling nation get back on its feet again. Yet Mitch McConnell and his cohorts have so disgusted us with their lies, distortions, Chicken-Little scare-mongering that I feel nauseous whenever I see his hamster-like face on the screen.
            Sean, they kneel to a different god than the one they purport to follow – and it is disgusting to me and other independents like me.That is why so many of us find your blog to be refreshingly honest (though we may differ on details) and wonder how you can possibly follow such a band of strange and irrational nutcases. Obama has in my opinion achieved a near-miracle keeping the U.S. from the same fate as Europe given how close we came to a complete meltdown!
            Time to confront the fact that you may actually be…. heaven forbid,,, a closet Liberal !! ???

            • “Time to confront the fact that you may actually be…. heaven forbid,,, a closet Liberal !! ???”

              I’m actually probably closer to libertarian, which is why I could never support the Democratic Party. I think the ideal size of government is probably at around 19% of GDP. That said, I’d prefer government to stay out of my business as much as possible. That said, I find both parties to be on the verge of insanity. The Democrats’ solution to every problem is to throw more money at it, and raise taxes on the “wealthy”, even though the top 10% of the population pay 40% of income taxes. The Republicans’ current solution to every problem is cut spending and lower taxes. The problem is that if we go the way of the Democrats, we will need about 5 years of food to weather the consequent hyperinflation. If we go the Republican way of austerity, we fall into a deflationary spiral. The solution should be one that use some targeted stimulus (e.g., corporate tax repatriation incentives to finance manufacturing plants, etc.), combined with intermediate solutions to cut entitlement spending. That sort of program takes the best of both ideologies and applies it to something that works. Instead, both parties are pushing us to either hyperinflation or great depression.

          • Chicken Sock Puppet says:

            There is nothing inconsistent with being against abortion and being for capital punishment. It’s actually quite simple:

            -Abortion is the murder of an INNOCENT life.

            -Capital punishment is the execution of a CONVICTED CRIMINAL.

            I hardly understand where the confusion comes in.

            • Chicken Sock Puppet,

              I hear you. Emotionally, I support the death penalty. That said, I cannot support it logically. It costs more than life imprisonment and results in too many innocent deaths. The same argument applies to abortion. If you are not 100% sure it is not a human life, is a fetus still OK to abort? Of course not (in my opinion). The same goes for capital punishment. The government has no right to kill someone if it is not 100% sure they are guilty of the crime.

              The weakness in your argument is that you assume liberals consider a fetus a life. Without convincing them of that premise, your argument will never see the light of day.

              That said, I agree with you that abortion is ALWAYS the murder of an innocent life. However, capital punishment is NOT ALWAYS the execution of a guilty person.

        • Phil says:

          http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0933935.html

          check out link and find the other 3 trillion if you can..Way too much money spent already plus the costs in lives affected but the numbers are what they are

  16. Benji712 says:

    Sean Patrick Hazlett,

    First off let me say, Good Post! Its good when people try to educate themselves in current affairs. Like a few of the comments/replies to the post I must say it does miss on some important points. I’ll be brief. The employment numbers shown from approx 2003-2008 are misrepresented due to the housing bubble. Think of it this way, your a small time employer (Bush) who is given a million dollar loan (US Debt) in 2003, your then able to hire extra unsustainable employees for a few years, then you default on your loan around 2008 (crash). Then someone else (Obama) takes over your company in 2009. He has to cut not only the new hires but in addition some of your pre-2003 (pre-loan) hires in order to stabilize the company (US) and begin paying off the bone-head loan you accepted in 2003. The stabilization of the company does not show positive signs until 2012 due to the terrible decision you made back in 2003. Your employees (American Public) have to live with the mistake (US Debt and Unemployment) that you made back in 2003.

    If this is not convincing, maybe you have some education in mathematics, calculus, or statistics. If so, you might be familiar with the derivative. If you took the derivative of the function that is shown in the unemployment graph (#1 graph in your article) you would see when the real changes were made in US employment (momentum shift, if you will). Statisticians look for the derivatives to be able to forecast what might take place in the future.

    In short, Bush inherited a super fast well maintained cruise ship from Clinton and turned it into a slow, burning, sinking ship. Obama inherited that sinking ship and has been trying to repair/keep it afloat since 2009.

    For the record im an independent.
    -Benji712

    • Benji712,

      Thanks for stopping by. To be fair, I think your arguments seem a bit one-sided. One could make a parallel argument that Bush’s early numbers for the first recession should be adjusted for Clinton’s tech bubble…September 11th…and Hurricane Katrina. Additionally, some of the ground work for the housing bubble was laid during the Clinton Administration (i.e., the Repeal of the Glass Steagull Act).

      That said, I won’t make that argument because there are far too many factors that influence the economy than one President alone.

      I agree that the $150B stimulus under Bush, TARP, and the $787B stimulus were all the right actions for both Bush and Obama to take. I agree that the derivative was positive at the beginning of the Obama administration. However, you should also note that the second derivative (the rate of job growth) sharply decelerated immediately after President Obama passed Obamacare. My contention is that President Obama made all the right moves to turn around a terrible economy until March 2010. After that point, I believe his policies (particularly Obamacare) slowed the recovery as business reined in hiring in response. In the end, the country is still at a worse unemployment rate than when Obama took office, partially but not entirely due to his post 2009 policies.

      In the end, none of this stuff is black and white. Both sides can construct convincing narratives to suit their own partisan points of view.

      • Benji712 says:

        Sean,
        Well said, I agree with your points about Clinton and the Glass Steagull Act. I would go back as far as the Reagan administration to show the deregulation of our financial system (even though I am a Reagan fan). Some of the points that angered me about the Bush administration was he fought two wars for a decade, both of which used expensive and unaccountable mercenary groups… costing the US a load of money, all while neglecting our US infrastructure. Now were broke, have a pile of debt, and have roads, bridges, sewers, tunnels, airports, railroads, power grids, etc. etc. that are in desperate need of rehabilitation all while supporting a government that has grown too large (especially defense) and a private sector (tax base) which has quickly disappeared. I am not in Obama’s court, I would like to think of myself as a fiscally conservative republican. Though.. the republicans in the recent years have shown themselves as not fiscally conservative and a type of warmonger; all while caught up in social issues. In my opinion, one of the better ways to gauge any countries success is to look at their wealth gap or the size of the middle class. I also like the percentage of homeowners or the average size of the countries homeowner.

        Here are some insightful graphs:

        Also read this small article:

        http://www.internationaleat.com/news_features/which-country-has-the-biggest-homes-in-the-world

        It says Aussi’s have the largest homes per capita, passed up the US a few years back.

        • Benji712,

          I agree with your point about Republicans and social issues. I personally tend to be socially conservative, yet I have no desire to inflict my social conservatism on others. What I do in my home is my business and no one else’s. Suffice it to say, I’ve found Santorum’s shift toward social issues to be unhelpful for the Republican Party. Politicians should not be in the business of legislating morality. Period.

          I think the reasons for the Iraq and Afghan wars are a bit more complex than the media has portrayed them. The Afghan War should have always been fought as a low-grade counterinsurgency with special forces, UAVs, and a limited number of conventional troops. It started that way, and was highly successful. A surge in Afghanistan was always the wrong strategy given the terrain and the culture. The Bush Administration got it half right, as did the Obama administration. I think the Obama surge was a bad idea. However, his dramatic expansion of UAV attacks in Pakistan was just what the doctor ordered.

          Iraq is also a complex case. After 9/11, the Saudi regime could no longer assure its stability with a large American military presence in the kingdom (~7,000 people at the time). However, US forces were still needed in the region to ensure the stable flow of oil from the Strait of Hormuz. Given that the UN never accounted for the WMD it inventoried in 1991, there was still reason to believe that Saddam Hussein had them, and to this day no one has ever been able to verify where these weapons went (one Iraqi colonel claims Saddam transferred them to Syria in March 2003 using the cover story that the Iraqis were helping the Syrians recover from the Orontes River flood). With the information we had at the time, it probably still made sense to do. That said, I blame Bush for three critical mistakes he made in the first few days both before and after overthrowing the regime:

          1) He ignored General Shinseki’s advice that he needed “on the order of several hundred thousand troops” to stabilize Iraq after an invasion
          2) He disbanded the Baath Party
          3) He disbanded the Iraqi Army

          In other words, he disenfranchised almost anyone who could read, did not have enough of his own forces to stabilize the country, and then disbanded the only other force that could do that for him. These three strategic errors probably lengthened the war by 6-8 years, hence adding to the debt as you’ve said.

          To Bush’s credit, his surge did work. After all, we learned from Germany that you need about 1 soldier for every 25 civilians to maintain stability. Of course, this only works in countries that have favorable terrain, which is why the results in Afghanistan have not been so promising.

          • Jeff Fordham says:

            Glad I found your website. I am an independent, and consider myself issue oriented with respect to any party. That being said, I wanted to jump in here and comment on your surge endorsement. After having 3-4 close friends who served in iraq, and a family member who worked for general Patraeus. I was shocked to learn that the surge as advertised had nothing to do with the real reason for the reduction in attacks on American forces. What helped reduce those attacks in Iraq was the $40-50 million per month that was paid directly to neighborhood Sunni Militia to STOP attacking us all over the country. This lasted for nearly 19 months where the VERY SAME insurgents who had already killed and injured thousands of Americans with IEDs and sniper attacks ( prior to the “Sunni Awakening”… aka bribery) were now being paid with American Tax dollars to not attack us anymore. This information never really made it into the press, but I did see the NYT journalist Dexter Filkins back up what I had been told by friends of mine on the Charlie Rose show. He had spent several years in Iraq and was embedded with an American unit during the surge period. He remarked being taunted by Sunni militia as they yelled “cash or chaos” every time his unit drove past them. Now a single sunni commander and militia member could collect more in a week than your typical Iraqi made in a year…….so why not lay the guns down? The “surge” as explained to us by the administration was just another lie. I am sorry, but the whole basis for starting the war was dishonest, and the strategy used to fight the war was 100% gross mismanagement. If Democratic president had taken the same route as GWB there would have been a backlash even worse than what we saw. Why conservatives still give Bush a pass with regards to Iraq ……as if he tried something noble just amazes me.
            I like the fact you seem to be far more pragmatic as a conservative, and from what I have read you seem to not be disconnected from reality. Lets hope you keep it this way.
            Its disconcerting to see and hear some of the crap that comes out of the mouths of my conservative friends lately.

            I like

            • Jeff, thanks for stopping by.

              You’re right. I neglected to mention that the US government paid the Sunni militants to secure their neighborhoods (and by extention, not to attack US forces) and provided these neighborhoods with valuable infrastructure. This strategy was a big component of the surge, a large contributor to its success – right or wrong.

              • Jeff Fordham says:

                “You’re right. I neglected to mention that the US government paid the Sunni militants to secure their neighborhoods (and by extention, not to attack US forces) and provided these neighborhoods with valuable infrastructure. This strategy was a big component of the surge, a large contributor to its success – right or wrong.”

                When I think about this…….with regards to Iraq….I find it impossible to get over the fact that we paid THE VERY SAME PEOPLE who (up to that point) had killed and mamed hundreds if not thousands of American service personel in the Iraqi theatre. There is no doubt a huge double standard here. If this insane policy had been implemented by Clinton or Obama……. calls for impeachment along with an insane right wing backlash would have covered the nation. True hawks gave GWB and Rumsfeld a pass on this. And the corporate media ( which is no more liberal than you or I ) really kept the lid on the sunni bribery.

                If I had a son or daughter who was killed or wounded by these people( prior to the sunni payoff) who then enjoyed my free tax payer money………there would be no end to my rage.

                Iraq was a national tragedy beyond compare….poorly planned and mismanaged from the start and allowed to fester into one of the most corrupt military missions to date which we will be paying for…… for the next 30 years.

  17. benji712 says:

    ok well said. props on the social/political view. Im just saying the homeland security post 9-11 and the defense budget have been unsustainable. dont spend 1,000,000 USD on a tomahawk cruise missle to destroy a 10 dollar tent. The Islamic extremists hurt us 100x harder on our wallets then they did on 9-11. Just look around, the feds are broke. the states are broke. Just wait until you start hearing about California or Illinois being compared to Greece’s economy.

    • I agree that defense spending is unsustainable. Fortunately, the Feds are cutting defense massively over the next decade. My biggest worry is about runaway entitlement spending. That’s what’s really bankrupting us.

      That said, defense spending has little to do with the state’s debt problems. If anything, defense cuts will actually hurt them. Both California and Illinois are in the position they are in because they embody liberal philosophies on taxing and spending. They disproportionately tax the wealthy, so that when the stock market crashes the state’s tax base also crashes. Additionally unions in the state negotiated gold-plated pension programs and other ridiculous entitlement programs. The politicians of these two states did this to themselves.

      • Jeff Fordham says:

        sean says: “My biggest worry is about runaway entitlement spending. That’s what’s really bankrupting us.”

        Yeah that the new found mantra from most Republicans who didn’t say a word while Bush ran up 6 triilion from 2001-2009. See, what gets me the most is that Republicans bang the drum and puff up their chests about spending………yet spend like Democrats when it comes to THEIR own special interests. I am tired of the bullshit…..at least Democrats will ask me for the money and tell me why they need it and not try to cover their tracks. Just the other day the Senate agriculture committee voted to pass a …….get this ……….480 BILLION farm subsidy bill……..with all members voting for it (Republicans too) while 4 of those voting no( 4 Southern Republicans) because IT DID NOT SPEND ENOUGH and give the peanut and cotton lobby an additionl 25-30 billion ,,,,,,,I kid you not. Read about it:

        http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/05/04/its-time-for-republicans-to-stand-up-for-free-market-including-agriculture/?cmpid=GoogleNewsEditorsPicks&google_editors_picks=true

        Mitch McConell voted no and offered dissent because it did not go far ENOUGH….!!!

        THIS IS THE SAME GUY WHO RANTS ABOUT OBAMA AND SPENDING……

        • I agree with you that this spending bill is wrong, and the Republicans are wrong for supporting it. I also disagreed with the Prescription D program under Bush. It was completely out of character. That still doesn’t change the fact that the leading current Democratic solution for turning around the economy is wealth redistribution.

  18. Benji712 says:

    I suppose your right, im mixing state and fed budgets. My philosophy with finances is KIS keep it simple. The feds could have chosen to reinvest in some of the states hit hardest, or prevent the crash of ’08 by increasing financial regulations. I think the total cost of war since 2001 is around 1.3 trillion and counting (maybe 1.5 by the end?… and that’s not counting the interest). 1.5T would go a long way in just about anything more beneficial to the United States of America than those 2 wars.

  19. Pingback: Shaping the political narrative with a great Infographic | Platform 10

  20. Bryon says:

    Just like everything else leave out the most important information so spin happens…..what about the economy post 911 up to the point where Dems took over…..show the curves from that point up to 2008……truth sucks doesnt it!!!….this is the worst president ever.

    • The housing bubble burst in autumn 2006. That, and the endless Iraq war, are tge main reasons that the Dems won Congress in fall 2006. The ball was already set in motion with decreases in housing starts and construction jobs starting BEFORE the Dems took over Congress. It’s unclear what could have been done as late as 2007 to keep the downhill slide from becoming an avalanche starting in early 2008.

  21. Nate (Seattle, WA) says:

    That’s very convenient of you to leave out (in your big opening) January 2009 and instead do accounting only to Bush’s last full month. As it turns out, the transition from Bush to Obama was when job losses were occurring at their fastest rate (which was a condition vastly more attributable to President Bush than Senator Obama), so the 20 days of January that you are choosing to ignore actually saw more than half a million people lose their jobs. And are you really saying that those last 10 days of January 2009 were the country responding to Obama policies? He didn’t enact any jobs bills in that time.

    The big stimulus bill didn’t get passed until February, and as Republicans were quick to point out, spending approved doesn’t all immediately turn into actual spending. The peak of stimulus spending didn’t come until late 2009 and 2010.

    And yet, the jobs number started looking better as soon as Obama took office. Immediately.

    The recession lasted for 13 months under Bush, and ended only 6 months after Obama took office. Since summer 2009, the economy has been growing. Unemployment is coming down, and is almost back at where it started for Obama (8.2% vs. 7.8%, which doesn’t round up to “one percent”, except in conservative mathematics), trending entirely in that direction. GDP is up. Stock market is way up (which tends to be a leading indicator).

    It’s still not a good economy, because it started in a huge hole. A hole blown in the economy by Republican policies. January 2001 to January 2007 saw our federal government completely controlled by the GOP. The mortgage lending (housing) bubble virtually all developed in that time. Relaxation of leverage limits on investment banks (2003-4). Post-9/11 Fed lowering of interest rates (2001+).

    I’ll concede to you that repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999 also played a huge role. That massive mistake is equally attributable to both parties (even if Clinton vetoed that one, it easily had enough votes to override a veto). But, the difference is that liberals bemoan that bad decision, where as conservatives still fight any attempt to go back to the types of policies Glass-Steagall implemented.

    What is it about conservatives that gives you the right to your own reality?

    • “What is it about conservatives that gives you the right to your own reality?”

      Well, let’s focus more narrowly on the “reality” and “narrative” you’ve constructed in this comment. Put simply, your argument is hopelessly inconsistent. To wit:

      “The big stimulus bill didn’t get passed until February, and as Republicans were quick to point out, spending approved doesn’t all immediately turn into actual spending. The peak of stimulus spending didn’t come until late 2009 and 2010.”

      and:

      “And yet, the jobs number started looking better as soon as Obama took office. Immediately.”

      Which is it? Is President Obama responsible for the jobs number improvement that “started looking better as soon as Obama took office. Immediately” and at the point at which the rate of private sector job loss reversed in February 2009? Or do we start the clock when unemployment peaked, supposedly when the stimulus started taking effect in 2009 or 2010? You cannot claim both because to do so would be logically inconsistent. Moreover, President Bush passed a smaller, $150 million stimulus in late 2008. If you put you money behind your former comment, then you have to concede that much of the jobs improvement was due to this earlier stimulus right? No? Then you are forced to accept your latter premise that the jobs picture improved “immediately” by sheer force of President Obama’s will and indefatigable charm. Is that really logical? The Democratic party thinks so as evidenced by campaign ads like this:

      I am perfectly willing to concede that President Obama took over when the economy was in a hole. However, to claim that one party had more to do with it than the other is to be hopelessly mired in a partisan worldview. For instance, given that half your argument is related to post-9/11 Fed policy, you are aware that the Fed operates independently of the executive branch, right? That’s the whole point of having a Fed, so that calmer, non-partisan technocrats can make rational decisions about monetary policy without undue partisan and election-cycle pressure.

      Moreover, to claim that 8.2% unemployment nearly 3.5 years after the President took over is an improvement over the 7.8% unemployment rate when he took over is eminently laughable. This data is a black and white refutation that anything the president is doing is working. If we re-elect him and we project this awful record going forward, we will be at 8.6% unemployment. What he’s done isn’t working by any objective standard. I’ve had enough of these liberal rationalizations of his poor job performance. They’re simply irrational.

      “The recession lasted for 13 months under Bush, and ended only 6 months after Obama took office. Since summer 2009, the economy has been growing. Unemployment is coming down, and is almost back at where it started for Obama (8.2% vs. 7.8%, which doesn’t round up to “one percent”, except in conservative mathematics), trending entirely in that direction. GDP is up. Stock market is way up (which tends to be a leading indicator).”

      Well, if you’d bother to read what I wrote, my starting point was President Bush’s last full month in office when unemployment was 7.3%. 8.2-7.3 = 0.9. Round it up and you get one. I can make your math look wrong too if I change one of the numbers I’m adding. Misrepresentation of someone’s argument to make a sweeping generalization about Republicans and an ad hominem attack on an author is deceptive, a weak form of argumentation, and a pathetically cheap partisan stunt. You should strive to do better next time, Aim for logic, not for the mud.

      As for GDP being up, it is anemically up. The stock market is up because it was at an irrationally low point in January 2009. If you start from an extremely low base, you are bound to look like a hero.

    • Nate, Sean and I discussed this somewhere on his blog last fall. The BLS statistics (and the FUTA unemployment reports that later provide more accurate numbers) ask employers for worker numbers as of the pay period that contains the 12th day of the month. So all of January 2009 job losses, all 724,000 of them, go into the Bush column. But there are various pundits who believe that the first three months, the first six months, even the entire first year of a President’s term should go in the outgoing Prez’s bucket. It’s somewhat silly to think that on the day a Prez steps into the Oval Office, he can immediately effect any change in number of jobs.

  22. efishal says:

    We lost about 4 million jobs the last year was in office…..we lost another 4 million after Obama was inaugurated……most of which were lost before a single Obama policy was enacted! So, we have now sustained 24 months of meager job growth. I think Obama is lookin pretty good at this point! Did he work any miracles? No, but things are gettin better buy any measure !

    • Not if you look at last month’s job numbers.

      • I remember last August, when it was reported that we had no net job growth. The Republicans had a field day with that ZERO. But the next month, that estimate was revised upwards, and that estimate continued to be revised upwards. The most recent estimate is that we added 85,000 jobs during that month, followed by 200,000 jobs in September. The BLS CES archives now show that we gained something like 443,000 jobs over that somewhat dismal third quarter. We also have the Business Employment Dynamics Report, which I’ve only started digging into, which shows that we actually gained about 750,000 jobs in that third quarter. That is actually more in line with the CPS numbers that show 722,000 more people as employed in that quarter.

        So the dingy third quarter 2011, marked by the debt reduction standoff that harmed both the President and Congress, was actually part of “the largest net job gain since first quarter 2006″.

        So my point is that we can’t look at one month.. or even two… to determine if the job market is horrible or not that horrible. The March numbers may be revised up or down, and we may later determine that they weren’t that bad after all.

        http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/cewbd.pdf

      • Iain Stewart says:

        Sean,

        I think you’re being rather unfair here. With the US (in my personal opinion, rightly) engaged in re-establishing more of an export-based economy focused to a greater extent on manufacturing, would you perhaps agree that the difficult circumstances prevalent in Europe might actually be a contributing factor to the anemic US recovery?

        And if only we hadn’t buried $1.3 trillion in holes in the Iraqi desert and engaged in constructing refrigerated chicken processing plants in regions with intermittent electricity, do you think we might now have the capital to reinvest in our own economy? Of course it was quite possibly Bin Laden’s goal all along to provoke a meaningless excursion into Iraq since I understand that Saddam and he had their differences.

        As an independent, my inclination is that Obama has actually achieved a notable victory in averting what could have developed into a major depression. I’m pretty sure Mitch McConnell would have broken out the Champagne if this had occurred. And as a Republican, maybe you feel obliged to defend your party just a tad too much!

        However, thanks for being so honest and willing to discuss. I’ve long given up on my Republican acquaintances whose only refrain seems to be the Faux News echo-chamber. Pity really. We could have had such fun!

        • I agree that Bush’s TARP and $150 billion stimulus, and Obama’s ~$800 billion stimulus helped stabilize the crisis. It’s what Obama’s done since that I have a problem with. Obamacare is making hiring people either more expensive or small employers perceive it is more expensive. As a result hiring has decelerated.

          Moreover, rather than forwarding a pro-growth policy that actually results in building manufacturing plants in the United States, his most recent policy push is the Buffet Rule, which will do absolutely nothing to encourage growth. It will more likely encourage capital flight.

          • The whole premise that giving millionaires tax cuts creates jobs is plain falacy.
            If it did so, shouldn’t we be just awash in all the jobs created since the rich got their extra tax breaks?

            And exactly when do you think Mitt Romney opened his accounts in the Cayman Islands? I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts it wasn’t *since* 20 JAN 2009. :-)

            • “The whole premise that giving millionaires tax cuts creates jobs is plain falacy.”

              President Bush lowered tax rates on all Americans, not just the wealthy, and it helped the US emerge from a recession. It was a form of stimulus, and it worked.

              “If it did so, shouldn’t we be just awash in all the jobs created since the rich got their extra tax breaks?”

              First, you would have to prove a counterfactual that things would have been the same or better without the Bush tax cuts in order to make this claim. I would have to prove things would have been worse. It is impossible to prove either. I believe that we would have been significantly worse off without the 2001 stimulus, just as I believe we would have been significantly worse off without the 2008 and 2009 stimuli. You cannot have it both ways. Either you believe stimulus works or it does not.

              “And exactly when do you think Mitt Romney opened his accounts in the Cayman Islands? I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts it wasn’t *since* 20 JAN 2009. ”

              This is about as relevant as questioning why Obama has never released his grades at Columbia.

              • >> his most recent policy push is the
                >> Buffet Rule, which will do absolutely
                >> nothing to encourage growth. It will
                >> more likely encourage capital flight.

                > And exactly when do you think Mitt Romney
                > opened his accounts in the Cayman Islands?

                Sorry that was too subtle for you.

                • Sorry. I am using the revamped WordPress system, which doesn’t show the entire comment thread. Now I see the full context. The Cayman Island stuff will likely get worse if you raise taxes, as people seek to avoid paying higher tax rates. It’s what the Laffer Curve is all about – i.e., government revenue is a concave down parabola. Tax too little, and you don’t get enough revenue. Tax too much, and revenue will also fall from a peak somewhere in between. For instance, if you taxed 100% of people’s incomes, no one would work and you’d get zero tax revenue. ;-)

                  • Iain Stewart says:

                    Oh, then if the Laffer curve applies, that must be what’s happening to the middle class. If they can’t get ahead by doing an honest day’s work at minimum wage, then why bother? Just go on welfare and have lots of kids…
                    Sean – do you really believe that the super-rich will be incentivized by further tax cuts. We tried that before and it didn’t work too well huh? The extra income probably disappeared in second homes abroad and Mediterranean yachts that didn’t do the US economy much good. In any case, the US now has agreements with a number of foreign banks to report income, and by 2016, there won’t be too many places to stash money.
                    I personally am a citizen of the UK and I report in the US every penny of income derived from my holdings there even though I am not what exactly a millionaire. I would hope that the uber-wealthy here would feel the pangs of conscience and do likewise, especially those ditto-heads who keep proclaiming their patriotism. Traitors all, if that is not too strong a word!

                    • Iain,

                      I’m not calling for additional tax cuts for the rich. Heck, I’m not even calling for a continuation of the Bush tax cuts (which lowered tax rates for anyone required to pay them). My problem
                      is with scapegoating a small segment of the population for purely political purposes. At some point the government will have to reduce spending and increase taxes. Now is not the time to do either. However, when growth returns, tax increases should be applied broadly, not narrowly.

          • Iain Stewart says:

            Sean: I’m not quite sure what you mean here “Obamacare is making hiring people either more expensive or small employers perceive it is more expensive.”
            If you compare this with zero health-insurance for employees, you may be right, but surely it has been the excessive (and possibly unnecessary) increase in health insurance costs that has caused employers to dump employees’ health care in the first place. I understand that Obama’s health-care mandate was intended to reduce insurance costs overall by delivering less emergency-room care and more preventative care as is the practice in the rest of the developed world.
            Much ill-informed criticism has been leveled by various right-wing pundits of health-care in Canada and the UK. The UK system is certainly not perfect (least so in London where it’s hard to attract medics to live in very expensive areas!), but covers all its citizens for 7.5% of GNP.
            Having worked extensively in Europe and the far East, the French system is one of the best I have encountered at 10.7% of GNP (against the US 16.5% for 2/3 its population). France also demonstrates that you can deliver stellar results with a mix of public and private financing. In a recent World Health Organization health-care ranking, France came in first, while the U.S. scored 37th, slightly better than Cuba and one notch above Slovenia. France’s infant death rate is 3.9 per 1,000 live births, compared with 7 in the U.S., and average life expectancy is 79.4 years, two years more than in the U.S. The country has far more hospital beds and doctors per capita than America, and far lower rates of death from diabetes and heart disease. The difference in deaths from respiratory disease, an often preventable form of mortality, is particularly striking: 31.2 per 100,000 people in France, vs. 61.5 per 100,000 in the U.S.
            I would hope that the Republicans can at some point get their fingers from their derrieres and begin participating in a well-informed health-care restructure, resulting in a system where doctors (and hospitals) are incentivized not by the number of irrelevant tests performed, but by how well they succeed with their patients. Maybe like the recent moves for rewarding good teachers, ‘pay for performance’ would work.
            So, Sean, instead of falling into the Faux-channel echo-chamber claiming death-panels and lines of people waiting for hip-replacements, we can begin engaging Yankee Ingenuity to evolve US health-care into an affordable, successful system that everyone can participate in. At least Obama is trying to reform the system, unlike the tired cliches we keep hearing from the other side.

            • Iain,

              There is no doubt that the US healthcare system is in need of reform. Unlike many Republicans, I actually agree with the healthcare mandate. That said, that’s the only thing that I like about the bill. If the Supreme Court strikes it down, the Act becomes nothing more than an unfunded expensive mess. Moreover, my problem with Obamacare was the timing. Obama’s stimulus was starting to work. Had the President focused primarily on getting the economy back on track, I would have had more favorable things to say about his policy. But just when things started improving, he passed a $1 trillion program that was ancillary to a focus on economy growth. That’s when the proverbial train went off the rails in this administration. My point is that healthcare is a problem that must be addressed. That said, now is not the time. The economy must come first.

  23. “The country still has a long way to go to restoring full employment and the President is running out of time. According to The New York Times, no sitting President since Franklin Roosevelt has won re-election when unemployment was over 7.2% on election day.

    And President Obama is no FDR.”

    But no sitting President has ever entered office with an economy as difficult as the one that Obama inherited. He won’t need 7.2% to get reelected. Look at the unemployment rate in 1936 when FDR was reelected. It was still somewhere around 15%. Of course, FDR didn’t have to contend with Murdoch who, according to the Brits, should not be allowed to run a media company, or the right-wing talk radio guys. But still…. The Southern Dems, many of whom later became the Southern Republicans, were starting to get restless a couple of years into FDR’s presidency, and, to maintain their support, FDR refused to support an anti-lynching law that was making its way through Congress in 1935. An anti-lynching law, for heaven’s sake! But FDR felt so insecure about the Southern Dems and needed them so much that he refused to support this humanitarian law.

    Also, FDR had a Congress that was 2/3rds Dem in 1933 and 75% Dem in 1935! The minority couldn’t have used the filibuster or even the threat of a filibuster if they wanted to, as the Dems had 60 to 70 seats in the Senate (only 48 states back then). Though the Southern Dems were starting to get restless, they were still Dems and most of them could still be held in line during the 30’s.

    Obama’s hold on Congress has never been as strong as FDR’s, and, as we have seen in the recently released Robert Draper book, the Republicans in Congress want you and all of us to be miserable, feeling that their opposition to anything Obama or people in his administration do is the key to regaining power, even if it means more people are unemployed and lose health insurance (and perhaps die), more people lose their homes, more people suffer.

    The Republicans are traitors and yet we still have people who will support them and, forgetting the condition of the country when Obama took office, buy their b.s.

    • “The Republicans are traitors and yet we still have people who will support them and, forgetting the condition of the country when Obama took office, buy their b.s.”

      Come on, Molly? This just seems like an emotional outburst to me. Surely, you do not honestly believe that Republicans are traitors trying to sink the ship of state? I could have made the same argument against Democrats like Harry Reid who said the “War is Lost” in Iraq just before Bush turned it around in the surge. That said, I won’t make that argument because it is unfair. I honestly believe Reid thought he was helping the country by making comments that were highly demoralizing for any American wearing or has ever worn a uniform. I was disgusted by the statement, but I don’t think he was actively trying to be a traitor, and I don’t think he intended to spit in veterans’ faces.

    • Jeff Fordham says:

      “The Republicans are traitors and yet we still have people who will support them”
      Thats a blanket statement Molly………many Republicans are not traitors …….but I would take acception to the fact that many……..many indeed have been wrongly propagandized into taking positions that offer no support for our great nation. They would rather tow the party line, than to find even the slightest ground of compromise that might benefit this country.
      Like him or not, Barak Obama was duly elected with a higher popular vote total than Ronald Reagan recieved in 1980….Yet the Republican party started out from day one with fierce opposition towards him in the midst of a national crisis …..instead of trying their best to find some middle ground for the sake of the nation, they have done, and still do all they can to stifle any effort towards a recovery. I thought the idiocy towards Clinton could never get any worse than it was in 1995, but that nonsense pales in comparison to the crap I have been hearing over the last 2 years.
      The right wing echo chamber has a huge cadre of demagogues who on a daily basis makes claims or comments that many times have no factual basis to support them. The constant 24 news cycle with its 20 second sound bites does nothing more than to keep this unsupported mish mosh alive.

      I just wish the country would come before any party….

      By the way Sean…….I saw you served in the 3rd division?…..

  24. Ax says:

    If you notice that most of the job loses under Bush occurred in the last two years of his presidency when the Democrats had a filibuster proof congress.

    • Iain Stewart says:

      Ax: I think we all understand now that the recession was a product of neither the Republicans nor the Democrats. Bubbles often collapse in recessions and in my opinion, Obama has performed exceedingly well in avoiding a depression.
      The question now is how we get out of it…
      The work economy is currently in a dangerous deflationary cycle and if you thought inflation was bad, you never want to see inflation! The deflation has been caused by an explosion of production in the developing world where a combination of low wages and western factory automation has produced an excess of low-price goods. The Feds sensibly printed more money to help neutralize deflation (as the ECB has done more recently) and this also helps reflate the economy. If unemployment were cut to around 4.5%, we’d have a negligible Federal deficit since government has shrunk more under Obama than it ever did under Bush. However, we see Tea-Party folks like Paul Ryan continuing to advocate huge cuts in spending and this will most certainly hamstring the very economic expansion that is so sorely needed right now.
      Will this cause problems in the future? – the market most certainly says NO. With 15 year mortgages currently at 3.12%, the market is saying that inflation will not be a problem for the next decade or two. The US can continue borrowing to expand the economy and pay back later when full employment has been achieved. And this will take some fiscal discipline later on, but by so doing, the USA can once again return to its premier position.

    • The Senate after the 2006 elections was 49 (R), 49 (D), 2 (I).
      Exactly how is that “filibuster proof” ?
      It’s taken 60 ayes to invoke cloture since the rule was changed in 1975, if I’m not mistaken; before that, it took 2/3rds (which was 67 ayes since HI joined) to end a filibuster.

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  26. Cobra says:

    This data is pointless. If you want to see which parties economic plans work better compare the growth numbers in states. For example compare the number of jobs created per 1000 people in California vs. Texas or something like that.

    • Even better would be to tabulate the number of Droughts, Wildfires, Earthquakes, Tornados, Hurricanes and Floods over the last couple years, and compare those numbers from states with Republican governors and legislatures, with states having Democratic governors and legislatures… just so we have an idea of whose side God favors more. ;-)

      • VR Kaine says:

        Well then pastors in Texas would have some explaining to do, wouldn’t they? Although I’ve heard that much of what they’ve gone through was over the decision to move Texas Stadium. :)

      • Cobra says:

        … assuming that Democrats can’t be Christian?

        Seriously though… looking at the economic performance state by state is perhaps the best way to go. Each state has a different economy and pursues different strategies.

        The recent recession was barely felt in my area, yet in Las Vegas where my aunt lives it’s been terrible for people.

        • VR Kaine says:

          I live here Cobra and it’s pretty bad (unless you’re a cab driver). We still have businesses shutting down left, right, and center and I don’t think we’ve really experienced the “bottom” here yet..

          • Cobra says:

            I live in Washington State and things seem to be heading upwards. Sad to hear things are not going so well where you live.

            • VR Kaine says:

              That’s OK. We have our own “Occupy” Movement. Tents, hackey-sacks, balaclava and knit-cap sales will bring our economy back from the brink! haha!

              Seriously, though, they say tourism #’s are back up and gaming #’s are working their way back up so that should help things recover. My bigger concerns are the debt and currency bubbles for the country.

              • Cobra says:

                Well we don’t just have to worry about our own debt, we also have to worry about Euro debt. Back in the 20’s and 50’s we had the money to bail them out, but not now. They are going to come crying for money at some point in the next few years. The economies of Asia have not been developed enough to compete with them in the past, but now they are almost caught up. China, India, S. Korea, Singapore, Taiwan… ect are going to start out competing Europe in the next 10 years because their labor protection laws make it expensive to produce and hire. Basically European socialists are living on borrowed time.

                Our currency needs to deflate, and it’s going to hurt, but it will cut down our trade deficit.

                I’m mostly worried that the debt has not been seriously reduced since Eisenhower. At this point we can’t just cut spending, we have to raise taxes too. The problem is that back then every major economy in the world had just been bombed into dust except the U.S. so that strategy could work without seriously damaging the economy.

                Living in Vegas, the housing market is cheap and the rental market is high. Personally I think if you can save or borrow some money this is an amazing time to invest in rental houses. I heard that in Vegas investors represent over 60% of all new sales! In order for the economy to start booming down there again the casino’s have to start believing in the economy. Personally, I think the move away from a family oriented atmosphere towards a more adult theme has hurt Vegas.

  27. Laura says:

    Sean: I’m very left-leaning, but I also believe myself to be a rational person, and being so I seek out sources that may differ from what I already believe or want to believe–to gain perspective. I just stumbled onto your blog tonight, and I must say I’m a fan already. Your posts are articulate, well-researched (even if I may not agree with your interpretation), and most importantly–like you claim–your rhetoric and tone are rational and not full of anger. I will be seeking out your blog for my “perspective” from now on.

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  29. Adam Wood says:

    You’re literally the first Republican in years that I’ve encountered who is not a complete zealot with blinders on. Thank you for not shedding your ability to see data clearly and use reason and logic to bring nuance into your thinking. While I disagree with some of your conclusions, I appreciate your methodology and willingness to debate without removing facts from the equation.

    Many Republicans I know have literally said that the data you use here is BS and can’t be trusted because it’s ‘from the government’. Thus, it is impossible to discuss anything when they prefer to use Glenn Beck’s secret magic economic data as their foundation. They see US Bureau of Labor Statistics and they think “Government Czar of Socialist Science” – all bad things to the tea party side of the GOP. It is maddening. So, again, thanks for being “normal”!

    • “You’re literally the first Republican in years that I’ve encountered who is not a complete zealot with blinders on. Thank you for not shedding your ability to see data clearly and use reason and logic to bring nuance into your thinking. While I disagree with some of your conclusions, I appreciate your methodology and willingness to debate without removing facts from the equation.”

      Thank you Adam. I’d rather focus on the data than the ideology.

      “Many Republicans I know have literally said that the data you use here is BS and can’t be trusted because it’s ‘from the government’. Thus, it is impossible to discuss anything when they prefer to use Glenn Beck’s secret magic economic data as their foundation. They see US Bureau of Labor Statistics and they think “Government Czar of Socialist Science” – all bad things to the tea party side of the GOP. It is maddening. So, again, thanks for being “normal”!”

      Depending on the site, many Republicans cite this data to make their arguments, as do many liberals. It seems to be written in such a way that both sides either decry it or use it to support their points. It’s very interesting to watch it employed to support both sides.

  30. Stephen Heider says:

    Good work – it does show that President Obama should be concerned about his chances this November. Reagan’s unemployment numbers spiked to 10.4% in his first 2 years, and barely made it below 8% by the time of his re-election. In fact, Wikipedia shows he averaged 7.4% for his whole presidency.

    We do have good numbers on gasoline-prices, as well as the Dow, so perhaps this one number will not be as significant as you report. I did find this Bloomberg article Obama “rating” informative as well:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-06-25/democratic-presidents-are-better-for-the-economy.html

    Thanks for your work!

  31. Royce says:

    I think you should take into account the Party that took control during the last 2 years had a lot to do with the problems….

    • Took control??

      Republicans only controlled one House of Congress for less than two years. Moreover, Democrats controlled both Houses of Congress for President Obama’s first two years in office as well as President Bushes last two years in office.

      I agree that Republicans in the House haven’t been helpful. In the same vein, I trust you are willing to place some responsibility on Democrats for the 2008 financial crisis as well, right?

      • Iain Stewart says:

        Sean, oh Sean !! Republicans nor being helpful – what an understatement !!!
        What are we to do with you? For the first 2 years of Obama’s administration, the Democrats might have had control BUT for some misplaced sense of social responsibility, they seemed to want to placate an increasingly implacable Republican minority. Since the latter have demonstrated no such sense (of responsibility) these last four years, I wonder why the Democrats wouldn’t adopt an equally obstinate approach of zero negotiation with this bunch of irresponsible hooligans. Call them what you will Sean, but McConnell’s silly declaration to make Obama a ‘one term president’ could really backfire on the Republicans this election.
        Maybe you imagine that Willard will bring the perfection you crave? A man who has switched his opinion on every subject, a man who actually owns a company, Stericycle (see http://www.care2.com/causes/bain-romney-invested-in-company-that-disposed-of-aborted-fetuses.html) that gets rid of aborted fetuses, who keeps his enormous fortune overseas in secret Swiss and Cayman Island bank accounts so he can presumably evade paying his already reduced taxes, a man who made his fortune on the backs of American workers and companies that ended up as zombies with their lifeblood $$$ sucked out, a man whose record shows that in a variety of roles, he off-shored or outsourced jobs overseas that should have remained in the U.S.
        So Sean – decision time – do you actually like this man, or is it Obama that you detest more?

        • “Maybe you imagine that Willard will bring the perfection you crave? A man who has switched his opinion on every subject>”

          That’s actually kind of why I like him. He is pragmatic, not ideological. His career has consistently shown two things: 1) he changes his opinion if that what it takes to solve whatever problem he is working on (regardless of whether it is in line with his ideology), and 2) he turns organizations around. He saved the Salt Lake City Olympics and his made his millions turning around poorly run companies.

          I don’t think Romney’s very charismatic. I also think he is tone-deaf when it comes to issues of class. That said, he understands the basic tenets of economic theory. Our President doesn’t have a clue.

          If this election were about foreign policy issues, I would vote for Obama. Aside from his strategic missteps with the Arab Spring, he’s actually done a pretty darn good job on that front. But this election is not about national security, its focus is on the economy. And by any measure, President Obama has been tone deaf on this issue. He did everything right until March 2010, when he passed the healthcare bill, thereby saddling American companies with future liabilities that they could not predict. This led to a deceleration in hiring, and the rest is history. When someone is on fire, it is better to put the fire out before trying to cure their cancer. By taking his eye off the economic ball, Obama lost my vote. What’s even more irksome is his demonization of the wealthy. Taxing them more simply won’t improve the economy. In fact, every economist will tell you that it will harm the economy all else being equal (even Krugman would contend that it would harm the economy at the margin). The immediate austerity measures that many Tea Partiers propose would also harm the country as well. There is a reason why this has been the slowest recovery since the World War II, and President Obama has a lot to do with it (though, to be fair, he is not the only one who deserves some blame).

  32. Chris says:

    Wow. What. An. Idiot. I am always amazed at the new ways Republicans try and make themselves look good. Any ten year old who looks at that chart could summise that the guy behind the red lines was saved by the guy behind the blue lines. All this says to me is that Obama inherited an Economy that was losing 800,000 jobs a month and nearly IMMEDIATELY reversed the trend. If anything this chart is a compliment to Obama and the stimulus. It doesn’t matter what propaganda you place as the footnote with your bold and italics, the chart speaks for itself…its proof that the presidents policies did work and are working. It’s as if a gunshot wound walks into the ER and Bush is the only doctor and he’s trying to stop the bleeding but the guy is dying so Obama takes over and puts pressure on the wound,slows the bleeding does some surgery and the guy recovers. Good work.

    • Wow. What. A. Stupid. Argument.

      And it flies in the face of the argument most liberals are currently making in regards to Mr. Obama’s lackluster job performance. Astonishing, really.

      According to your logic it’s no mistake President Obama is half Irish, because he’s, like, a leprecaun. By sheer force of personality, he reversed the job loss trend the instant — nay – the nanosecond he took office. That whole silly TARP thing that his predecessor implemented had nothing to do with restoring confidence to the financial markets and to businesses that were laying off people in droves.

      But, no. Obama, as you say, reversed the trend “IMMEDIATELY”. According to you, Obama’s stimulus started working before it was even passed. Obama really must be a leprecaun! I guess all this capitalization means you’re yelling at me, because apparently that’s what highly intelligent non-idiots like yourself do when they are making “cogent” arguments.

      Moreover, if Obama’s sheer unmitigated genius so miraculously fixed the economy, why is unemployment still higher than when he first took office over 3.5 years ago? Why is unemployment at 8.2% when he “promised” it would be 5.6% by this point in time?

      Oh wait, I know the answer. We should ignore it because Mr. Obama is, ah, a leprecaun. And his economics is magic!

  33. Peter says:

    One thing that your arguments and charts do not account for is the fact that many of the lost jobs under President Bush are jobs that can not be replaced, at least not anytime soon. For instance, the auto industry cut thousands upon thousands of jobs in the last several years, factories have been shut down and entire divisions of the big three have been closed. Those jobs are not easily replaced and it could take decades for places like Detroit to fully recover. None of this is any individual president’s fault, not Obama, not Bush. They can make all of the policies that they want to try to create jobs and prevent jobs from being lost, but they cannot put a gun to the heads of executives and force them to hire or not lay off or from outsourcing valuable jobs even! The unemployment rate is completely misleading when using it to judge a president’s performance!

    • Another Molly says:

      “The unemployment rate is completely misleading when using it to judge a president’s performance.”

      I completely agree with this statement. Looking at the unemployment rate under a president’s term is assuming there is one cause of a problem when there are MANY other variables that may have affected this result. It’s almost as if you are using the same logic that politicians use to determine a teacher’s “effectiveness”…basically looking at the percentage of students who passed their state test to determine if a teacher is doing his/her job…never mind the importance of parental involvement, the academic home environment of the student, and the millions of other conditions that affect a child’s intelligence and performance in school. Assessing other jobs with this “correlation-is- causation” argument is ridiculous (see http://www.trelease-on-reading.com/no-dentist.html), so why should we evaluate the president this way?

      I am also curious why you (I am talking to Sean, by the way) only discuss private sector jobs when you discuss unemployment. I know for a fact that many Republicans have voted to slash funding for many, many state jobs (at both a state and federal level), but somehow this “doesn’t count” when the topic of unemployment comes up. See this website for more info about just how many jobs have been cut in the public sector: http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/08/03/635501/america-teachers-job-losses/?mobile=nc. Would you blame this unemployment on Obama too? I feel that if there was a Congress with a democratic majority, Obama and other senators/representatives would support more public jobs than the GOP, but that is just my opinion (see p.16 of the “American Jobs Act” that Obama presented to Congress http://www.slideshare.net/whitehouse/american-jobs-act-9230256). We will see if Congress passes this act…

      Also, I would like to add that helping many people in the country afford insurance through health care reform is going to (eventually) reduce families’ spending on these health-related costs. It has been proven that health care costs can be so exorbitant that they drive many American people to bankruptcy when they do not have enough (or any) insurance coverage (see “Every 30 seconds a person goes bankrupt in the United States due to an inability to pay their medical bills.”– Susan Blumenthal, M.D. Former U.S. Assistant Surgeon General http://www.huffingtonpost.com/susan-blumenthal/affordable-care-act_b_1737731.html). When families do not have as many health care costs, won’t they spend the money they will save with the new act? Won’t this act as an unofficial “stimulus” for the average family? Putting more money in the hands of the American people was the reasoning behind the stimulus, wasn’t it? So maybe Obama’s focus on the Affordable Care Act could be a way of helping the overall economy through a different means, not “avoiding” economic problems that plague our country.

      I would like Sean to respond to this post because I enjoy debates with respectful people, even if they do have different opinions:) It is boring to debate with people who believe the same thing…

      • “I completely agree with this statement. Looking at the unemployment rate under a president’s term is assuming there is one cause of a problem when there are MANY other variables that may have affected this result. It’s almost as if you are using the same logic that politicians use to determine a teacher’s “effectiveness”…basically looking at the percentage of students who passed their state test to determine if a teacher is doing his/her job…never mind the importance of parental involvement, the academic home environment of the student, and the millions of other conditions that affect a child’s intelligence and performance in school. Assessing other jobs with this “correlation-is- causation” argument is ridiculous (see http://www.trelease-on-reading.com/no-dentist.html), so why should we evaluate the president this way? ”

        Molly, it’s a fair point that the President is not entirely responsible for the unemployment rate. However, it is an indicator of the effect of his policies, as is record high deficit spending, and a record high number of food stamp recipients. He deserves some, but not all, responsibility. It is equally wrong to claim he has no impact on the unemployment rate whatsoever.

        “I am also curious why you (I am talking to Sean, by the way) only discuss private sector jobs when you discuss unemployment. I know for a fact that many Republicans have voted to slash funding for many, many state jobs (at both a state and federal level), but somehow this “doesn’t count” when the topic of unemployment comes up. See this website for more info about just how many jobs have been cut in the public sector:”

        I focused on private sector employment because that is the chart the left was cherry-picking to laud Obama’s job’s performance (while ignoring the one that shows the unemployment rate). If I looked at nonfarm employment the chart would look even worse. Republicans have indeed slashed public sector jobs, but amazingly every state that elected a Republican Governor in 2010 now has a lower unemployment rate. Imagine that. Perhaps they’re on to something.

        “Also, I would like to add that helping many people in the country afford insurance through health care reform is going to (eventually) reduce families’ spending on these health-related costs.”

        How do you know that? Nearly everything about that bill (with the exception of the individual mandate) raises costs. Have your medical costs been lowered since March 2010. Mine are way up, to the point that I simply don’t go to the doctor for anything anymore. It’s too expensive.

  34. Taher says:

    I am glad that you are reasonable to an extent, but your anti-Obama bias still sets in, with regards to your comments.

    Your chart clearly shows that in Jan 09, the economy was shedding over 800,000 jobs. This is the most jobs lost in a single month, going all the way back to 1930-40’s, which means that Obama was handed the second worst recession in modern history, You can even call it a depression.

    In your comments you give credit to Obama for turning the economy around (which is light years ahead of your republican allies who claim that Obama has made it worse, which is the most absurd claim I have ever heard), YET you say that Obama’s policies have failed.

    So which is it?
    Have Obama’s policies recovered an economy that was in depression, in which case it means that his policies have worked?
    Or have those policies failed? You cant have it both ways.
    Don’t tell me that you, (libertarian/republican) expected a Democratic president to take an economy that was losing 818,000 jobs a month and make it gain somehwere in the region of +450,000 a month in just a short 3.5 years ESPECIALLY since your party does not believe Democratic policies work?
    All that even with the GOP in the Congress the last 2 years, doing their best to ruin his presidency and the economy at the same time.

    Obama inherited an economy that was losing 818,000 jobs a month, so he had to start from so far behind that its not funny. Before Obama could make any job gains he had to arrest the massive job loss he inherited and then start the long climb back up to neutral territory before he could actually make any job gains at all.

    Because the olympics are on, I will give you an analogy in that category:

    I compare it to having a team of runners on an athletics track trying to run a race under qualifying time, each runner is allowed to run a maximum of two laps. When Bush entered the race, he started off 250,000 seconds ahead of the qualifying time (relates to 250,000 jobs gained in Clinton’s last month and largest ever surplus that Bush also inherited from Clinton), and by the end of his alloted 2 laps, Bush had fallen so far behind the qualifying time (relates to 818,000 jobs lost in his last month and massive deficit), that when it was Obama’s turn to enter the race he had to start so far behind by 818,000 seconds. By the end of his first lap, Obama has made up all the time that Bush had lost and has brought the team back under the qualifying time.
    Does Obama not deserve to complete his second lap?
    If he made up all that time in his first lap, then surely his tactcis have worked and he deserves credit for getting the team back on track?
    And if Obama was able to do all that with his tactics in his first lap, then imagine what he could do in his second lap.

    • “In your comments you give credit to Obama for turning the economy around (which is light years ahead of your republican allies who claim that Obama has made it worse, which is the most absurd claim I have ever heard), YET you say that Obama’s policies have failed.

      So which is it?
      Have Obama’s policies recovered an economy that was in depression, in which case it means that his policies have worked?
      Or have those policies failed? You cant have it both ways.”

      In other comment sections (maybe somewhere in this one) – I don’t know because I’ve explained my position on this so many times it is making my head spin. Here’s how I see it:

      Bush passed TARP and a smallish stimulus, which saved the financial system. Obama passed a second larger stimulus which prevented US GDP from cratering into a depression-like event. TARP saved the world from a financial collapse; the two stimuli avoided a Depression.

      Obama was doing well until he halted his momentum with Obamacare by stifling hiring because his policy induced uncertainty into the labor market about how much it would cost to hire long-term employees. As such, hiring decelerated at the instant in time Obamacare passed (March 31, 2010 or thereabouts). To make matters worse, Dodd-Frank passed, which has made it difficult and nearly unprofitable for banks to issue loans (among other actions such as requiring banks to hold large amounts of capital, which alternatively removes money from being invested in the economy), also indirectly has stalled the recovery. In essence, government has gone too far in interfering with the market under the Obama presidency. Though his initial actions were both necessary and effective, his later policies have markedly slowed the recovery.

      I hope that answers your question.

      “Don’t tell me that you, (libertarian/republican) expected a Democratic president to take an economy that was losing 818,000 jobs a month and make it gain somehwere in the region of +450,000 a month in just a short 3.5 years ESPECIALLY since your party does not believe Democratic policies work?
      All that even with the GOP in the Congress the last 2 years, doing their best to ruin his presidency and the economy at the same time.”

      Reagan’s performance should provide a sufficient counterexample in the early 80s. Not an apples-to-apples comparison, but instructive nonetheless.

  35. It is interesting that you deny that economic policy has anything to do with the economy. During most of its history it has been Republican policy to transfer wealth from the middle class to the rich. We had sixteen years of intense wealth transfer under Clinton and Bush and you expect that things will change in four years under Obama. Obama kept Bush’s tax breaks for the rich. Just as the depression of 1929 was caused by a lack of demand by the middle class, the depression of 2008 was caused for the same reason. There has been no significant change of economic policy in Obama’s first term just as there wasn’t in Roosevelt’s first term. Only in the late 1930s when the Republicans agreed to support a change in economic policy did the country begin to climb out of the depression. Obama serves a convenient whipping boy for those who claim that it’s personality not policies that control economic performance. As long as the Republicans that we have now continue to hold office the depression will continue.

  36. skysky says:

    [“I’m in the middle of a disaster. The person currently responsible is doing a terrible job and the disaster continues getting worse. People are dying. A new person is appointed for the position, but the second he takes over he is suddenly responsible for all the people that die from that point on?”

    Actually, if you were a general, that is exactly how you would be assessed. But hey, you came up with this absurd analogy, I didn’t ]

    Sean – Don’t be stupid – you know exactly what he means. No one needs fancy charts or stats to know that the economic meltdown and record unemployment happened while Bush was in office. The greater the disaster damage, the more difficult the recovery.

    • “Sean – Don’t be stupid – you know exactly what he means. No one needs fancy charts or stats to know that the economic meltdown and record unemployment happened while Bush was in office. The greater the disaster damage, the more difficult the recovery.”

      Agreed. But 3.5 years? If the economy hasn’t turned around by now under Obama’s policies, do you really think he’d pull it off in 4 more years? Don’t be stupid.

  37. EddieInFL says:

    So during the DNC, when we hear how many jobs the Dems created, we must keep in mind the statistic they ARE NOT TELLING. They have LOST at least an equal number of jobs. The net gain/loss is near ZERO. So they have accomplished no job growth.

    In addition, the average HH income has DROPPED $4,000 (from $54k to $50k). They won’t report that either.

  38. Yo Mamma says:

    Let me just point out that the graph of people dropping out of the work force does include people retiring. Logically, most people aren’t going to just up and stop looking for a job. This actually means that more people are able to retire, because they are more secure financially.

  39. Yo Mamma says:

    Also, this graph shows the NETS of each month. It shows both jobs being added and lost.

  40. Michael says:

    Sean, who is the President in November 2013?

  41. “Sean, who is the President in November 2013?”

    Michael, I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make here.

  42. Pingback: Job Loss Under Bush Vs Obama | Job To Do

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