Two years ago, I posted the job-creation stats for every president since Jimmy Carter, making the point that Democrats have been FAR better for the economy than Republicans. Despite being repeatedly vilified by the Right as “an abject failure”, Jimmy Carter actually created MORE jobs annually (2.6million) than Ronald Reagan (2.0million) (second only to Bill Clinton – 2.9million). Reagan actually has just the FOURTH best annual job creation record (also behind LBJ @ 2.3mil). And as of the latest job creation figures (nice interactive chart), it looks like President Obama is on track to surpass “The Gipper” as well.
(Editors Note: The precise number of jobs created monthly under Obama is FAR higher than under Reagan, but that number is misleading and unfair to Reagan, as the U.S. population was roughly two-thirds of what it is today, so I do not include the raw totals in this analysis. – Mugsy)
The Unemployment figures for February came out last week. Unemployment held steady at 8.3% despite the number of jobless claims hitting a four year low and 227,000 new jobs created. The reason the rate did not budge is because more long term unemployed reentered the job market, optimistic that they might actually find work. Naturally, Right Wing websites like Michelle Malkin’s (appropriately named) “Hot Air” blog spun the stalled unemployment figure and increased number of people in the job hunt as “bad” news, citing a Gallup poll showing “non-seasonally adjusted unemployment hitting 9.1%” (you will find the Malkin link at GoogleItYouLazyBastard.com). This supports my maxim that “Republicans consist of ‘The Willfully Painfully Misinformed’ and the ‘Deliberate Misinformers’ that know better but lie to advance their agenda.” (actually, when it comes to Malkin, who has demonstrated a Palin-like grip of the facts, I suspect she’s more the former than the latter.)
The Reagan Administration did create more jobs overall than Carter (16.0m vs 10.5m), but it took Reagan eight years to do it (vs four for Carter). With the latest unemployment report released last week, the Obama Economy is now creating more than 200,000 jobs per month (and rising). That’s 2.4million jobs a year. Outpacing Reagan’s 2.0million figure by the end of his second term (though as I note above, raw totals are a bit unfair due to population growth. Percentage wise, the two are about equal.)
But what about “by the end of Reagan’s FIRST term”? Remember that the crisis in Iran pushed unemployment up a full 1.3% Carter’s final year in office (ibid first link). Gas prices spiked as a result of the Russian oil embargo and the economy plunged into a recession. One year into Reagan’s first term, unemployment continued to rise another 2.6% (to 9.7%), and unemployment was STILL 9.6% a year after that (Reagan’s third year). Unemployment didn’t fall below 8 percent (to 7.5%) until just in time for the November election four years later, where he beat former VP Walter Mondale in the most lopsided victory in history (Mondale winning only his home state of Minnesota and D.C.) by asking voters if they were “better off now than they were four years ago?” For most of Reagan’s first term, the clear answer was no. Unemployment was up over 9.5% most of that time and the National Debt had nearly doubled (from $900b to over $1.5T). But an improved economy just in time for the election coupled with an inept challenger (Mondale told voters he would “raise taxes. So will Reagan. The difference is that he won’t admit it. I will.” Time proved Mondale right, but it cost him the election) gave the incumbent president a huge victory on election night. And his “defeat of the Soviet Union” placed him firmly into virtual sainthood with Republicans that lasts to this day (and my readers know as well as anyone that “St. Ronnie” bears NO resemblance to the man that tripled the Debt, negotiated with terrorists, raised taxes 12 times, passed pro-choice legislation, said it was “nuts” for a millionaire to pay less in taxes than a bus driver, and gave amnesty to 10million illegal immigrants.)
Compare this to President Obama (all numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics). Before he took office, unemployment spiked nearly THREE FULL POINTS (2.9%) in just the last 11 months of the Bush presidency (as Wall Street collapsed, the housing bubble popped, and saber-rattling against Iran pushed gas prices up over $4/gallon in July before the election). Like Reagan, unemployment continued to rise Obama’s first year in office (but reversed course and plunged just prior to the GOP retaking Control of The House in 2011), at which point unemployment halted its rapid decent and bounced around the 9 percent mark until last October when it began its trek to below 8.5%. The day President Obama was inaugurated, the DOW closed at 7949 (a loss of OVER FOUR THOUSAND POINTS IN ONE YEAR; down from 11971 the year before.) Right now, it is hovering just below 13,000.
Despite being over 9 percent for much of his presidency, unemployment was higher (and climbing faster) when President Obama took office (7.8%, up from 4.9%) than when Reagan took over from Carter (7.5%, up from 6.3%). By the end of Reagan’s second year in office, unemployment hit a whopping 10.8 percent. By the end of Obama’s second year, unemployment was 9.4%… never going above 10.0% in October of his first year. Republicans have (and continue to this day) criticized President Obama for not getting unemployment down “faster”, but can’t deny that it is indeed coming down. My favorite response to this nonsense Talking Point came from Congressman Xavier Becerra a few weeks ago who said that, “Even Superman needed some track to stop the train.”
On ABC’s “ThisWeek” yesterday, guest panelist Elliot Spitzer said it was likely President Obama would “campaign on Reagan’s famed line: ‘Are you better off today than you were four years ago?’ And the overwhelming answer is Yes.” (add to that this list of 50 Incredible Accomplishments.) Naturally, the Conservatives on the panel absolutely denied this fact to be true. But it is undeniable. Despite being handed an economy that was in FAR worse shape than the one Carter handed Reagan in 1981, unemployment never getting anywhere NEAR as high under Obama as it did under Reagan and coming down a full year sooner into Obama’s presidency than it did for Reagan, the fact is, President Obama has a phenomenal performance record under FAR worse conditions than that of the Conservative icon.
Also, Reagan reduced unemployment the final year of his first term by freezing public sector layoffs (followed by increasing public sector hiring in ’85 & ’86 – ibid)… unlike President Obama, whose job growth numbers have been offset by massive public sector layoffs pushed by a GOP hounding him over “government spending”. Unemployment would unquestionably be well below 8 percent today if it weren’t for all the public employees that lost their jobs in all this Conservative “austerity” mania. Which is certainly one of my pet-peeves with President Obama, constantly giving in to Republican demands for spending cuts and tax cuts, only to then have the GOP vilify him for “job loses and the growth of the deficit.” (What did Bush say? “Fool me once…”)
Oh, and as for President Obama’s record as Commander-in-Chief (7 seconds):
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