Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Greg Sargemt writes at The Morning Plum: Mitt Romney, The 'Pro-Layoffs' Candidate:
[President] Obama’s “doing fine” quote is getting more media attention than Romney’s quote about cops and firefighters is. But in a sense, Romney’s quote has at least as much actual policy relevance as Obama’s does. Arguably more. After all, Obama has proposed a plan to address the crisis, which suggests he doesn’t really think the economy is doing fine. By contrast, Romney’s quote is a policy statement — he really is proposing to respond to the crisis by cutting government further.
Obama is pushing a plan to send $35 billion to the states for the hiring of first responders and teachers to speed the recovery. Romney has been claiming that he wants to cut thousands and thousands of government jobs in order to ... put Americans back to work again. That isn’t an actual plan to do anything about the crisis, in the sense that it’s exactly what Romney would be proposing if the economy were doing great.
[T]he Romney campaign is hoping voters make their decision based on frustration and disillusionment with the pace of the recovery — feelings the Romney camp is trying to exacerbate with the “doing fine” quote — without looking too closely at the true nature of the alternative Romney is offering. The Obama campaign is seizing on Romney’s quote about cops and firefighters to drive home the true nature of the Romney alternative.
Result: The argument over the true relationship between government, public sector jobs and the economic crisis is now front and center. And as it happens, Obama is actually right about the relationship between government job loss and the continuing crisis, and Romney is wrong about it. Surely that’s at least as important as the optics of Obama's admittedly serious gaffe.
Steve Benen picks up this argument as well. Obama camp focuses on Romney's pro-layoffs plan:
As a rule, gaffes tend to capture the political world's attention, but in this case, we have something more significant than a soundbite -- we have a policy position. Indeed, the Republican nominee for president seriously believes we can "help the American people" by laying off, not just public-sector workers in general, but specifically cops, firefighters, and teachers -- and his background as a one-term governor makes clear he means it.
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I realize the out-of-context "private sector is doing fine" line is the official new plaything, but Romney's position is substantive and important, and apparently even controversial among conservative Republicans. The differences between Obama and Romney on this have the potential to drive the presidential campaign: does it help or hurt America when hundreds of thousands of school teachers and first responders lose their jobs?
For the first time in generations, the two major-party presidential candidates answer that question differently.
So let's have the debate and see what voters think.
Keep in mind, Obama's Jobs Act intended to protect or create 400,000 jobs for school teachers, police officers, and firefighters. A CNN poll taken at the time found that 75% of the public -- and 63% of self-identified Republicans -- endorsed this jobs proposal. It would suggest Romney has a tough case to make to the nation.
But he planted a pro-layoff flag anyway, which clearly deserves some follow-up. The question for the GOP candidate seems pretty obvious: Dear Mr. Romney, please explain why America will be better off when more teachers, cops, and firefighters are unemployed.
On Friday, I ran some numbers on public-sector employment:
Since Obama was elected, the public sector has lost about 600,000 jobs. If you put those jobs back, the unemployment rate would be 7.8 percent.
But what if we did more than that? At this point in George W. Bush’s administration, public-sector employment had grown by 3.7 percent. That would be equal to a bit over 800,000 jobs today. If you add those hypothetical jobs, the unemployment rate falls to 7.3 percent.
Today, Ben Polak, chairman of the economics department at Yale University, and Peter K. Schott, professor of economics at the Yale School of Management, widen the lens, with similar results:
There is something historically different about this recession and its aftermath: in the past, local government employment has been almost recession-proof. This time it’s not. Going back as long as the data have been collected (1955), with the one exception of the 1981 recession, local government employment continued to grow almost every month regardless of what the economy threw at it. But since the latest recession began, local government employment has fallen by 3 percent, and is still falling. In the equivalent period following the 1990 and 2001 recessions, local government employment grew 7.7 and 5.2 percent. Even following the 1981 recession, by this stage local government employment was up by 1.4 percent...
Without this hidden austerity program, the economy would look very different. If state and local governments had followed the pattern of the previous two recessions, they would have added 1.4 million to 1.9 million jobs and overall unemployment would be 7.0 to 7.3 percent instead of 8.2 percent.
As you can see, government employment tends to rise during recessions, helping to cushion their impact. But with the exception of a spike when we hired temporary workers for the decennial census, it’s fallen sharply during this recession.
Note that a Republican was president after the 1981, 1990 and 2000 recessions. Public-sector austerity looks a lot better to conservatives when they’re out of power than when they’re in it.
It is long past time for the media villagers and Beltway bloviators to pull their heads out of their ignorant asses and stop playing their favorite "gaffe game" for their own amusement and public distraction, and to start reporting on the very serious consequences of continuing down the path of the entirely disproved and discredited faith based supply-side "trickle down" GOP economics that destroyed the foundation of our economy over the past 30 years, compounded by the GOP's historically failed "austerity" policies to get the economy out of the deepest recession since the Great Depression. It didn't work for Hoover, it won't work now. Their blind devotion to these failed economic theories will only make things worse.
This country needs to return to the Keynesian economics that worked for 50 years following the Great Depression and built the largest most successful middle-class in the history of the world. If we want to restore the American middle-class, there is only one path forward. We must consign the fantasies of conservative economics to the ash heap of history forever, and return to the pragmatic solutions of what we know worked for over 50 years. This election is a choice between two competing economic theories: Keyensian economics that works, and conservative economics that is a miserable failure. The choice is yours. Choose wisely.