“Very Good” Report, But It Takes A While To Clean Up After Republicans

I was watching CNN this morning when the new—and “very good“— jobs numbers (as Mark Zandi characterized them later on MSNBC) came out. Guess who CNN, the network that tries hard at times to be a watered down version of Fox “News,” had on to comment on the numbers? No, come on, guess.

Oh, I knew you couldn’t guess. It was, uh, Grover Norquist. I’ll spare you what Grover had to say (that is something you could guess), but the point is there was no one on the panel of guests to counter the nonsense he spouted. I guess all the good guys were busy congratulating those conspirators at the Bureau of Labor Statistics for another job well done making Obama look good.

In any case, the numbers for October signal a continuing improvement. There were 184,000 private sector jobs added—32 months of consecutive growth—which represents the largest gain in eight months (government jobs continue to decline, as 13,000 more were lost, split fairly evenly between federal and state).  Because of the increased number of folks entering the job market (always a good sign), the unemployment rate rose to 7.9, from last month’s 7.8 (which, of course, the right-wing labeled a conspiracy).

What often gets lost in the Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly report are the revised numbers for the last two months:

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for August was revised from +142,000 to +192,000, and the change for September was revised from +114,000 to +148,000.

That revision represents 84,000 more jobs added over the previous two months than previously reported.

So, although there is still a lot of Republican economics to fix, things are, indisputably, getting better and better.

Before I go, let’s play the guessing game again. What would you guess Fox “News” was doing after these “very good” numbers came out at around 7:30 C.S.T.?

Oh, I know, this one was easy, given what Fox has been doing for the past three weeks:

You gotta hand it to those guys. They are not ashamed of what they do.

By the way, in case you can’t quite figure out what that graphic in the right hand corner says, here is a better look:

Obama is one bad cat. One cover up isn’t good enough for him, he has to have two, or, who knows, possibly more. Perhaps next week’s Fox graphic will be a trifecta of intrigue: “Cover-up of the Cover-up of the Cover-up.”


With Apologies To The Titmouse

As the weak job numbers came in this morning, I thought about just how successful Republicans have been in preventing the economy from increasing employment.

Economists know what would increase job growth in the short term, most Republican legislators know it, almost all Democrats know it, and President Obama is certain of it.

But yet we are still treading water, and almost 13 million folks who want jobs don’t have them, and millions more are working only part-time, against their wishes. And worst of all, millions are in the dreaded category of the long-term unemployed.

Mitt Romney, basking in the partisan glow of anemic job growth—only 84,000 private sector jobs added in June, for a running total of 4.4 million over the last 28 months—said this morning:

American families are struggling. There is a lot of misery in America today.

Indeed there is. And, to the extent Republican politicians can summon a whit’s worth of concern about that misery, the solutions they offer are, as President Obama said yesterday (and again this morning) just the same old trickle-down economics, which he called a “coherent theory”:

You can see it on their websites.  They don’t make a secret about what they’re planning to do.  The only problem is we tried it — we tried it for about 10 years right before I was elected as President of the United States, and it didn’t work. It didn’t make the middle class stronger.  Job growth was sluggish.  Your wages and your incomes did not go up. It didn’t grow our economy the way it needed to.  And it culminated in the worst financial crisis we’ve had since the Great Depression.  So their theory was tried.

Well, Mr. Obama may give the other side too much credit for having a theory of middle-class-aiding economics, coherent or otherwise. His opponents’ twin operating theories alternate between a strategy that can deliver an electoral knockout punch to what they perceive to be the economic glass jaw of the President, and the need to protect the moneyed class that supports their lamentable lust for power.

If the poor, the children, the elderly, the working  and middle classes, and the country in general suffer because of these alternating theories, then so be it.

Other than Mitt Romney, who has traded what political decency he may have had for a mess of pottage cooked up by contemptuous and contemptible conservatives, the person who to me most represents the right’s unseemly appetite for power and unreserved advocacy for the wealthiest Americans, is Mitch McConnell.

On Fox “News” Sunday, Chris Wallace tried to pin down the electorally lustful McConnell several times on just how he and the Republican Party, after killing the Affordable Care Act, would “extend insurance access to 30 million people who are now uninsured.”

Obviously stunned by a Fox host practicing real journalism, McConnell finally managed to say:

That’s not the issue…

WALLACE: You don’t think the 30 million people that are uninsured is an issue?

MCCONNELL: Let me tell you what we’re not gonna do: we’re not gonna turn the American health care system into a Western European system. That’s  exactly what is at the heart of ObamaCare. They want to have the federal government take over all of American health care…

So, the short answer is, nope, Mitch McConnell doesn’t think that a tenth of the country going without health insurance is an issue, at least an issue more important than the country going another election cycle without him as the Senate Majority Leader.

All of which leads me to a story on Politico.

President Obama was speaking Thursday in Sandusky, Ohio, when he met a woman named Stephanie Miller, who was crying when they talked. Here are a couple of photos of the moment:

Here is the account from Politico:

“I thanked him for the getting the Affordable Health Act passed,” Miller said, referring to the health care overhaul the Supreme Court upheld last week.

Miller said her sister passed away from colon cancer four years ago — partly because she could not purchase health insurance.

“Even after she was diagnosed with cancer, she was told her income was too high for Medicaid,” Miller said.

I don’t know why the Republican Party has devolved into a shelter for repugnant reactionaries, who by their politics and selfish political theories suggest that Stephanie Miller’s sister isn’t worth discussing with a host on Fox “News,” or, more important, with the American people.

But I do know if more Americans are forced to confront the harsh reality lived by people like Stephanie Miller’s late sister, if they are obliged to acknowledge that millions upon millions of folks are not enjoying the bliss of American exceptionalism, and if they find out that Republicans offer nothing to change that reality other than a Randian economics that has previously shipwrecked the economy, then Mitt Romney will never hold the office he has corrupted himself to get.

And Mitch McConnell will remain a tiny titmouse of a man whining his crestfallen song before an increasingly irrelevant minority in the United States Senate.

Stimulus: “It Did What It Was Supposed To Do”

Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, was asked about the latest jobs report on The Daily Rundown this morning:

LUKE RUSSERT: The stimulus worked a little bit, you think, here?

ZANDI: I think it was a success, yes. It did end the recession; it jump-started our recovery. It’s not a source of long-term economic growth—it was never intended to be—but it did what it was supposed to do.

Voters should remember that the positive news in February means 24 consecutive months of private-sector job growth, and they should remember this too:


Help For The Confused

Here are a couple of graphics from MSNBC this morning:

Now, Mitt Romney has repeatedly said that Mr. Obama has made the economy or the recession “worse.”  But  he has also said that he didn’t say that the President has made the economy worse. But he has also said the economy is actually getting better.  Mitt is all things to all confused people.

But even confused people can look at the graphics above and begin to understand that the strategy underlying Romney’s campaign for president is, well, as weird and creepy as creep-in-chief Donald Trump’s hair.

Speaking of which, I thought it was altogether fitting when Mr. Trump endorsed Romney and when Romney enthusiastically accepted his endorsement. Someone has to sew up the creep demographic in America and I prefer Trump take all of the suspense out of it now, so Obama can start working on confused Americans.

Today’s job report is a good start.


“To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies…”

—definition of “doublethink” from George Orwell’s 1984


As an example of how a right-wing think tank—if that’s what you want to call the hopelessly extreme Heritage Foundation—spins the facts when a Democrat is in the White’s House, let’s look at today’s employment report from the Department of Labor for last month:

Nonfarm payroll employment continued to trend up in October (+80,000), and the unemployment rate was little changed at 9.0 percent, the U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

By now most people have heard that bit of information. It has been spread far and wide today with various interpretations, from “anemic” to “hopeful.” (Private sector payrolls actually increased by 104,000, which means more government jobs were lost, but since Republicans don’t count government jobs as real jobs, I suppose that doesn’t matter much.)

But what most people probably haven’t heard, unless they have been paying close attention, is the following, from the same jobs report:

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for August was revised from +57,000 to +104,000, and the change for September was revised from +103,000 to +158,000. 

Those revisions are fairly substantial, particularly the August revision.  Perhaps most people have forgotten, but the original August report, which was used to blast the Obama Administration, said this:

Nonfarm payroll employment was unchanged (0) in August, and the unemployment rate held at 9.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

It doesn’t take a Pythagoras to figure out that the original August report was off by 104,000 jobs, which is because the data is always subject to refining, as more reliable information is factored in.

But here is how the Heritage Foundation’s Mike Brownfield, billed as the “Assistant Director of Strategic Communications,” spun the August numbers on the foundation’s policy news blog:

President Obama enters this Labor Day weekend with a serious problem on his hands. For all intents and purposes, the economy appears to be stuck in neutral, with news out today that the U.S. economy created a grand total of zero jobs in August. This followed two months of near zero growth. Not surprisingly then, the unemployment rate in August remained at 9.1 percent, virtually unchanged since April. In fact, it was completely unchanged, and for the first time since 1945, no new jobs were created—Zero.

America now has the weakest labor market in a generation, and the American people know it…

The two-and-a-half-year Keynesian experiment of flooding the economy with taxpayer dollars has failed, yet the President and his union allies continue to peddle the myth that the only way to save the economy is to spend more. There’s another way to go: freeing America’s small businesses from the day-to-day shackles of existing over-regulation, freeing families and entrepreneurs of the threat of higher taxes, and cutting spending to eliminate the constraining fear of America’s debt crisis. Zero job growth does not have to be America’s reality, but changing course will mean ditching the dream that more government spending will save the day.

Blah. Blah. Blah. We expect the Heritage Foundation to behave this way with the facts, since it was founded by right-wing extremists like Joseph Coors and Richard Mellon Scaife and is sustained by right-wing extremists like the Koch brothers.

But shouldn’t a think tank at least trust its readers to engage in some thinking?  Here is how the same guy, Mike Brownfield, reported today’s news about jobs:

No news is good news–except when it means that the story about America’s slow-moving economy remains the same…

The word from the monthly jobs report shows that unemployment was little unchanged at 9 percent in October, with only 80,000 jobs created. While it’s always good news when jobs are created (especially given this Administration’s record), there isn’t much of a sign of a strong economic recovery…

Today’s economic report shows more of the same economic news for America, and President Obama is responding with more of the same policies that won’t change the country’s economic direction.

Not a word in the article about the August or September revisions.

Now, given the big deal that was made by Mr. Brownfield about the “Zero job growth” in August, one would think that an organization that claims it is a “research and educational institution” would at least bother to point out that the “Zero job growth” was in fact  an increase of 108,000 jobs, right?

Of course I know better than that. The point is that these think tanks on the right are in fact don’t-think-just-believe-what-we-say tanks.

The truth is that for 20 straight months the economy has added private sector jobs, to the tune of 2.8 million, which is far too few, but still moving in the right direction.  And we would be in better shape still if we hadn’t lost almost half a million government jobs over the last 20 months.

But, again, as Billy Long said on Wednesday, those “public sector jobs” are “usually wasteful,” so good riddance.

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans shot down another chance to create thousands upon thousands of jobs, and the Heritage Foundation couldn’t be happier.

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