By now, you’ve probably heard that the December jobs report was pretty good; the economy grew by 200,000 jobs, and unemployment declined to 8.5 percent. Still high, but a positive trend given the circumstances. As you might imagine, this presents a problem for the Republican presidential candidates, who routinely accuse President Barack Obama of destroying jobs with his policies. Their solution has been to fudge the numbers. To wit, here’s Mitt Romney with a statement on today’s report:
Under President Obama, we have lost 1.7 million jobs — America deserves better. Eventually our economy will recover, America always does. But President Obama’s policies have slowed the recovery and created misery for 24 million Americans who are unemployed, or stuck in part-time jobs when what they really want is full-time work. As President, I will refuse to accept high unemployment as the ‘new normal’ for our economy. [Emphasis mine]
This is only possible if you include every job loss in 2009, regardless of whether the president’s policies were in effect. What’s more, it ignores the extent to which it's ridiculous to hold an incoming president responsible for job losses that occur in the first months—or even year—of his tenure; the economic deterioration of 2009 owes more to the financial crisis (and the policies of the Republican Party) than it does to anything from the Obama administration.
It should be said that Romney’s rhetoric is slightly more honest than Santorum’s. In response to the new numbers, the former Pennsylvania senator declared that the improvement is due in part to “optimism that maybe Republicans are going to take the White House, and maybe that is spurring people to start taking some risks.”
Given the degree to which economies aren’t driven by some nebulous sense of confidence, I think it’s safe to say that this isn’t true, at all.