Rope-A-Dope: a boxing term coined by heavyweight prize-fighter George Foreman in his 1974 “Rumble-in-the-Jungle” with Muhammad Ali. Foreman… clearly winning… repeatedly pinned a battered Ali against the ropes, landing dozens of punches on the weary ex-champ. But the joke was on Foreman. While exhausting himself by pounding away at his opponent, Ali was “resting up” against the ropes, catching his second-wind to come back and defeat the worn-out George Foreman. “Rope-a-Dope” has since come to mean anyone that foolishly does exactly what their opponent wants, tricking them into hurting themselves, leading to their eventual defeat. Republicans wail about the need for “austerity”… the need to drastically cut government spending… as the ONLY path to economic recovery. It’s the heart of “The Ryan Plan” Republicans are so in-love with (as someone else noted, for all the Republican hatred of all things European, why copy THIS from them?). And any Democrat that dare proclaim a need for government “Stimulus” is branded a borderline Communist, that Conservative voters are then whipped into a frenzy to push out of office. But in fact, following a thorough examination of state employment figures of just the past four years, I found that the states most likely to expand the public workforce in order to cut unemployment are Republican. Meanwhile, Democrats are bullied into cutting spending in fear of being called “tax & spend Liberals” in an election year. Rope-a-Dope.
Last week, I included the following graph of the increase in Public Sector job growth under President Reagan after unemployment broke 10%:
“And it’s worth noting, by the way — this is just a little aside — after there was a recession under Ronald Reagan, government employment went way up. It went up after the recessions under the first George Bush and the second George Bush. So each time there was a recession with a Republican President, compensated — we compensated by making sure that government didn’t see a drastic reduction in employment.”
Once again, IOKIYAR to use the Public Sector to make your unemployment figures look good. But when a DEMOCRAT is president, “the government spends too much!” and “we must reduce the size of government” to the point where even threatening to DEFAULT on the National Debt is promoted as a serious option.
In fact, a LOT of people over the past week have questioned the wisdom of Conservative “austerity” as the solution to fixing the global economic crisis. And not just here in the U.S.. In France, they dumped Conservative, Bush-loving, austerity-advocating President Sarkozy, electing their first Socialist president since 1995. In Greece, a split-decision has left their elections in chaos with the “New Democrats” winning the largest proportion of votes (18.9%) and more than a third of the seats in Parliament, almost assuredly leading to a second election two months from now. One thing’s for sure, the big loser in the Greek elections was “austerity”. Austerity doesn’t work, a point economist Paul Krugman has been making for years. WSJ columnist Justin Lahart reported last week that if it weren’t for government layoffs, the unemployment rate would be closer to “7.1%”. And as I reported on May 5th, over 600,000 government jobs have been cut since President Obama took office… jobs that existed when George W. Bush was in the White House, yet you didn’t hear Republicans threatening to shut down the government over the (then) exploding Deficit, did’ya?
Austerity is a giant wet blanket on the economy. When people aren’t spending, businesses go broke, laying off more people who then don’t have money to spend. It’s a vicious cycle. We need government to be the “customer of last resort” to give companies a reason to hire/expand again. Giving enormous tax breaks to companies isn’t going to motivate them to hire more employees when they can already meet demand with their existing workforce. And $500 “Stimulus checks” like President Bush handed out twice were huge failures because in a bad economy, people don’t spend their windfall, they pay off things they ALREADY bought. The rest they put in the bank out of fear for what the future holds. This is why Republicans suck as growing the economy WHILE simultaneously exploding the Debt with tax cuts.
So while Republicans embrace “The Paul Ryan Budget” and scream at Democrats for their unwillingness to embrace austerity to fix our economy, I naturally just assumed that Republicans at the State & Local level were slashing government jobs in the name of “austerity”, hurting (deliberately?) the monthly Federal Unemployment figures. (And you know what happens when you assume.)
Most graphs of the number of State & Local employees since Barack Obama took office all look a lot like this:
…peaking during the Bush Administration, plunging in Obama’s first year, and slowly climbing back towards Bush-era levels. In fact, state employment in 49 of 50 states is back within 3 percent of where it was before Obama took office (the lone outlier: Nevada, where state employment under Republican Governor Sandoval is only 93% of where it was four years ago, and by no coincidence, has the highest unemployment rate in the country at 12.0%.)
(ref: Unemployment rate by state)
Of the 16 states with Public Sector employment at or above where they were four years ago, TWELVE are Republican:
|State (Gov)||Growth of Public
Workforce since 2008
|North Dakota (R)||112%||3.0%|
|New York (D)||101%||8.5%|
|West Virgina (R)||100.7%||6.9%|
You read that right. The states with the most Public Sector hiring are 3 times more likely to be Republican (map of Party control by governor). And take a look at North Dakota! The state with the greatest increase in Public Sector jobs also has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation at a paltry 3.0%. Shocker, Republicans are big freakin’ hypocrites. Of course, I should of known this already following my debunking of Rick Perry’s “Texas Miracle” nearly a year ago. Wanna see what a “Texas Miracle” looks like in terms of government jobs?
A few states dramatically buck the standard “Arizona” model (see graph near the beginning of this Op/Ed) for Public Sector job growth. Here are a few notable exceptions:
Alaska dramatically increased the size of government (lowest point around day Palin resigns: July, 2009):
Indiana, home of Governor Mitch Daniels who recently said we need to “Slash government even if it costs jobs”:
Louisiana public job growth spikes right around the time the BP oil-spill cleanup begins (April, 2010):
New York (a blue state) which suffered greatly following the collapse of Wall Street, was unusual in that it didn’t see much bang for its buck (8.5% unemployment):
How did North Dakota achieve that 3.0% unemployment rate? Maybe this will help:
Just about every state started to reverse public sector layoffs in early 2010, but none more dramatically than Virgina:
It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. All I can hope for is that Democrats will look as these numbers and call “Bullshit!” the next time a Right-Winger demands “Austerity!” from Democrats as the way to fix our struggling economy. It’s like a huge joke where Republicans have been playing Democrats for suckers. Rope-a-Dope.
(Note: Commenting has been fixed so that it’s no longer limited to “Registered” members only. – Mugsy)
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