On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that unemployment was “up” for the month of May, that a paltry 54,000 jobs were created, and unemployment rose to 9.1%. Republicans raced to the microphones to condemn President Obama’s economic policies as an abject failure. Mitt Romney said President Obama inherited a Recession (a surprising admission) “and made it worse” (An AP Fact Check says, nope, sorry Mitt.) House Majority Leader Boehner told reporters “We’ve wasted two trillion dollars, and what have we gotten for it?” Later he added: “When you talk to the job creators like we have, they’ll tell you that the over taxing, over-regulating, and over-spending that’s going on here in Washington is creating uncertainty and holding them back.” How does a government spend “two trillion dollars” and still end up with an economy in Recession? Who is behind this job-killing “uncertainty”? So I went looking for some answers.
On “Face the Nation” yesterday, host Bob Scheiffer tried to play “gotcha” with Nancy Pelosi, quoting her criticizing the Bush Administration in July of 2008 “when unemployment was around 5% and gas hit $4/gal”. Unemployment “around 5% in July of 2008”? That didn’t sound right to me. So I checked (where else?) “The Bureau of Labor Statistics“:
(Let us not forget, despite sub-6% unemployment during most of that time, job growth was almost non-existent, with the lowest annual job-creation-record since Herbert Hoover.)
In July of 2008, unemployment was nearly 6% (not 5), up from 4.9% two months before. In fact, unemployment skyrocketed nearly 2-1/2 points Bush’s last eight months in office as the Mortgage Crisis sent banks (and Wall Street) into a tailspin. But you know what else skyrocketed at the same time?
(Click to enlarge)
Notice that area I highlighted in yellow (both above & below). The same time unemployment was on the rise, gas prices were climbing to a (then) unheard of $4/gal. It took the likelihood of the White House falling into the hands of Democrats (and the likelihood of a Democratic Super-Majority in the Senate) for President Bush to stop saber-rattling against Iran long enough for gas prices to PLUMMET in time for the November election. But by then, it was already too late. Unemployment continued to rise as the Recession/Banking-Crisis just got worse:
Unemployment graph – 2001 to Present
Notice 2009 as the last Bush-Era budget expired. Unemployment continues on the exact same trajectory set the year before. But by the end of the year, as the first Obama budget was enacted, unemployment finally began to level out, peaking at 10.1% in October of 2009 (you can see this same effect in 2001 table above, as the last Clinton budget ends and the first Bush budget begins). Unemployment stopped its rapid rise and is still a full point lower now than when it peaked in October of 2009 when the last Bush-budget ended… not great, but no longer jumping 2 points a month either.
But, go back to that gas price chart again. Compare the rise in gas prices from February of this year to the end of May. Now compare it to the rise in unemployment… that sudden steep climb at the end there. Look familiar? Compare that rise to the same one in early 2008 when gas was racing towards $4/gal. The correlation between gas prices and unemployment is undeniable.
You want to know what killed the economy last month? GAS PRICES. Deregulation of Oil Futures Commodity Trading Market has AGAIN allowed speculators to drive up the cost of oil to over $100/barrel and gasoline to nearly $4/gallon, making EVERYTHING more expensive. From the cost of production (from farming to furniture), the cost of transporting those goods, the loss of business from people doing less driving to the store or going out for the evening AND from people having less money to spend once they get there, THAT is why May’s numbers were so bad. And until oil & gas prices come back down, things are NOT going to improve.
Speaker Boehner proclaimed “two trillion dollars later, and where are we?”, making it sound like we spent all that money exclusively on stimulating the economy. Where does he get THAT figure? Simple. “Two trillion dollars” was THE ENTIRE FEDERAL BUDGET FOR THE LAST TWO YEARS. It includes the cost of two-and-a-half wars (if you count Libya)… that THEY support… and borrowing to pay for a tax cut for the top two percent that THEY DEMANDED. It includes the cost of running the entire Federal government: everything from letter carriers to the FBI & CIA. Only a tiny sliver of that “two trillion dollars” actually went to stimulating the economy.
When Republicans ran for Congress in 2010, their signature issue was (quote) “Jobs, jobs, jobs.” Since taking control of the House (where all budgetary bills must begin) in January of this year, House Republicans have introduced NO legislation specifically to create jobs. Here is an annotated list of bills introduced by the House since Republicans took control of that body in January (Note: bills are NOT introduced in same sequence as written):
Bill # Date (ie: “priority”) Issue HR21 Jan 5, 2011 Reclaiming Individual Liberty Act
(bill to repeal “mandate” portion of HCR)
HR25 Jan 5, 2011 The Fair Tax Act
(replace Federal Income Tax with 23% National Sales Tax)
HR2 Feb 1, 2011 Repealing the “job-killing” Health Care Law Act
(move to repeal provisions that haven’t even taken place yet.)
HR22 Feb 1, 2011 Pipeline Safety Act
(minimum standards for notifying residents they live near an oil or gas pipeline.
Introduced by Democrat Jackie Speier-CA)
HR11 Feb 10, 2011 Extend 1986 “Build America” bonds program to create jobs
(introduced by Democrat Gerald Connolly-VA)
HR1 Mar 9, 2011 Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 HR31 Apr 6, 2011 Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Accountability and Transparency for Taxpayers Act of 2011
(require Fanny/Freddie to submit quarterly reports. Introduced by Republican Judy Biggert-IL)
HR3 May 9, 2011 No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act
(redundant bill to make illegal that which is ALREADY illegal.)
HR.4-5-10, 32-100 – (bills unrelated to jobs/taxes/economy/abortion)
Jobs, jobs, jobs. One might think, from looking at that list that I *deliberately* omitted a bunch of Republican legislation geared towards “job creation”, but I didn’t (have a look for yourself if you don’t believe me). I stopped in exasperation by bill HR55 looking for something/anything “jobs” related introduced by this new Republican congress that came in promising to focus like a laser-beam on “jobs, jobs, jobs”. Of the three bills listed above that actually do anything “constructive”, two were introduced by Democrats (in fact, after perusing a few more, eight out of ten substantive bills introduced to actually DO anything practical were introduced by Democrats. Those introduced by Republicans? Taxcuts). The only tool in the GOP toolbox when it comes to ways to get the economy moving again is clearly “taxcuts and more taxcuts”. In early 2001, WSJ columnist Peggy Noonan triumphantly declared, “The grown-ups are back in charge”. I don’t have to tell you what happened next. But looking at that list above, which Party looks like “the grown-ups” and which Party looks like teenagers looking to raid the liquor cabinet while Mom & Dad are away? Other than bills to kill health care reform, and a dozen proposed changes to the tax code (including one to abolish it entirely), I did not find even one single bill introduced by Republicans regarding “job creation”. None, nada, zip. The “Guam Loyalty Recognition Act”? Seriously?
So don’t go on TV, Mr. Boehner, crying about how “President Obama has failed” to fix the economy. Don’t try to claim we spent “two trillion dollars” purely on “Economic Stimulus and Job Creation” when half that money went to pay for wars that Republicans love and extending tax cuts that have been in place since 2002 on the contention that they “create jobs”.
And regarding the second half of Boehner’s remark about how economic “uncertainty” was to blame for the lack of hiring despite all the tax cuts so far, I’ve written about THAT nonsense repeatedly and don’t feel the need to go into it again. In short, the only people creating “uncertainty” are the people promising to block all legislation, rather than remove that “uncertainty” by agreeing to pass it. Hey Republicans, why not just pass that legislation you are certain will make things worse? What could be better with an election so near? If it doesn’t work, do what you always do (and were going to do anyway): blame the Democrats who control two-and-a-half branches of government and let your candidates run on promises of undoing the damage. Hell, isn’t that what you’re doing already?
Don’t go blaming the Obama Administration for failing to turn the economy around when you block everything he wants to do and then don’t introduce ANY jobs legislation of your own. As one radio pundit put it, “They don’t WANT the economy to get better. Lower unemployment would only help Democrats in the next election.”
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