While You Listen to Republicans Squawk About Jobs Numbers, Consider This Context

On the first Friday of every month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases a jobs report with the updated employment numbers.

And on the first Friday of every month, Republican elected officials, along with their allies on cable news, talk radio, and newspaper editorial boards, launch into fulminating diatribes against President Obama. The jobs numbers are good? It’s Obama’s fault they aren’t better. The jobs numbers are bad? It’s a direct result of Obama’s actions.

It is even worse than it was earlier in the year, because now the corporate-funded assault on our TV airwaves is in full swing. We don’t have to tell you that the Romney campaign, the Republican National Committee, Restore Our Future SuperPAC, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Crossroads GPS, American Action Network, and a host of other shadowy right-wing groups are pumping millions into TV ads; American families can’t watch a single Olympic event without having to listen to a scary voice telling them Obama is responsible for all their problems.

Yes, it’s an election year, and yes, we shouldn’t be so surprised by politicians saying things that serve their political interest. But in this case, this faux outrage is especially offensive, given the actions of GOP officials in the House, Senate, and state houses are directly contributing to sluggishness of the economy.

Consider the context of these July jobs numbers. In the past month:

  1. Republicans in the House of Representatives voted down a bill that would have extended tax breaks for working families making less than $250,000. They instead passed a bill to raise taxes on 25 million Americans, while cutting taxes for the wealthiest 2 percent. Less money in the pockets of working people means less consumer demand, which means fewer jobs.
  2. Republicans in the Senate refused to bring a bill to the floor, known as the Bring Jobs Home Act, that would have ended tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas and created tax incentives for “insourcing,” or bringing jobs back home. Even though a bipartisan majority of 56 Senators voted to consider the bill, 42 Republican Senators used a parliamentary maneuver to avoid debating the bill entirely. Thanks to those 42 Senators, American taxpayers are literally paying for the cost of companies leaving our shores.
  3. Republican governors and state legislators continued their austerity policies, including the layoffs of teachers, firefighters, police officers, nurses, and other public employees. Republicans believe somehow that firing people who work for the government somehow “grows jobs” in the private sector. Economists, on the other hand recognize that mass layoffs in the public sector are a huge drag on the economy at large. A study from the Economic Policy Institute estimated that these cuts trumpeted by governors like Rick Scott, Scott Walker, and Tom Corbett have killed – I’ll say it, killed – as many as 750,000 private sector jobs. Between bloviating politicians and actual economists, we’ll go with the economists.

So the next time you see an anti-Obama ad or a right-wing pundit blaming Obama for unemployment (and everything else for that matter) keep these facts in mind. Because as much action as President Obama is taking, there’s only so much that can be done with Republican lawmakers at every level dragging down our recovery.