Media Fixation On Obama's Private Sector Remark Diverts Attention From GOP Obstruction On Jobs Bill

››› ››› MIKE BURNS

Media are diverting attention from the fact that Republicans are obstructing a jobs bill that economists estimate would create millions of jobs by fixating on President Obama's comments that private sector job growth is "doing fine."

Obama Contrasts Private Sector Jobs Growth With Public Sector, Calls On Congress To Pass Jobs Bill

Obama: Private Sector Job Growth Is "Doing Fine." While discussing the economy in a press conference on June 8, Obama drew a contrast between job growth in the private sector -- which, as Obama said, has added about 4.3 million jobs in the past 27 months -- and the public sector, which has lost 550,000 jobs over the same period, saying, "The private sector is doing fine":

OBAMA: The truth of the matter is that, as I said, we've created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone. The private sector is doing fine. Where we're seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government -- oftentimes, cuts initiated by governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don't have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in.

And so, if Republicans want to be helpful, if they really want to move forward and put people back to work, what they should be thinking about is, how do we help state and local governments and how do we help the construction industry. Because the recipes that they're promoting are basically the kinds of policies that would add weakness to the economy, would result in further layoffs, would not provide relief in the housing market, and would result, I think most economists estimate, in lower growth and fewer jobs, not more. [WhiteHouse.gov, 6/8/12]

Obama: "In Light Of The Headwinds That We're Facing Right Now, I Urge" Congress "To Reconsider" Passing Jobs Bill. During the press conference, Obama also renewed his call that Congress pass a jobs bill:

OBAMA: Last September, I sent Congress a detailed jobs plan full of the kind of bipartisan ideas that would have put more Americans back to work. It had broad support from the American people. It was fully paid for. If Congress had passed it in full, we'd be on track to have a million more Americans working this year. The unemployment rate would be lower. Our economy would be stronger.

Of course, Congress refused to pass this jobs plan in full. They did act on a few parts of the bill -- most significantly the payroll tax cut that's putting more money in every working person's paycheck right now. And I appreciate them taking that action. But they left most of the jobs plan just sitting there. And in light of the headwinds that we're facing right now, I urge them to reconsider. Because there's steps we can take right now to put more people back to work. They're not just my ideas; they're not just Democratic ideas -- they're ideas that independent, nonpartisan economists believe would make a real difference in our economy.

[...]

OBAMA: Now, if Congress decides, despite all that, that they aren't going to do anything about this simply because it's an election year, then they should explain to the American people why. There's going to be plenty of time to debate our respective plans for the future. That's a debate I'm eager to have. But right now, people in this town should be focused on doing everything we can to keep our recovery going and keeping our country strong. And that requires some action on the part of Congress. So I would urge them to take another look at some of the ideas that have already been put forward. [WhiteHouse.gov, 6/8/12]

AP: "After Republicans Pounced On" Private Sector Comments, Obama Clarified That U.S. Economy Is "Not Doing Fine." The Associated Press reported that Obama later clarified his remarks to say that it is "absolutely clear" the economy is "not doing fine":

President Barack Obama, seeking to clarify comments about the strength of the U.S. economy, said later Friday it is "absolutely clear" that the U.S. economy is "not doing fine."

[...]

The president said later he knows the economy "needs to be strengthened." He says that while there has been some "good momentum" in the private sector, Congress needs to act to help boost jobs in the public sector. [Associated Press, 6/8/12]

Media Misinterpreted Comments, Distracting From GOP Obstruction On Jobs Bill

BuzzFeed: Obama's Private Sector Remark "A Gift To Republicans." BuzzFeed Politics stripped Obama's private sector remarks out of context and declared it to be "a gift to Republicans." From BuzzFeed:

[BuzzFeed Politics, 6/8/12]

Time's Michael Scherer: "POTUS Gives GOP Ad Makers A Sound Bite: 'The Private Sector Is Going Fine.' " In a post on his Twitter feed, Time's Michael Scherer wrote: "POTUS gives GOP ad makers a sound bite: 'the private sector is going fine.' "

[Twitter, 6/8/12]

U.S. News: "Obama Says Private Sector 'Doing Fine'; GOP Jumps On Gaffe." From a U.S. News & World Report blog post titled, "Obama Says Private Sector 'Doing Fine'; GOP Jumps on Gaffe":

President Obama's campaign has been plagued in recent weeks by high-profile supporters like former President Bill Clinton and Newark Mayor Cory Booker undermining his message. On Friday, it was the president himself putting his foot in his mouth.

"The private sector is doing fine," he said during a press conference with reporters. Obama was attempting to explain how Europe's economic crisis related to the U.S. economy and what lessons he hoped we could learn from the eurozone's handling of it.

But his statement -- made at a time when the economy is still struggling to recover and unemployment remains above 8 percent--will likely strike many as tone deaf. [U.S. News & World Report, 6/8/12]

Fox Nation: "Obama: 'The Private Sector Is Doing Fine.' " A Fox Nation post took note of Obama's clarification, yet still featured the misleading headline: "Obama: 'The Private Sector Is Doing Fine.' "

[Fox Nation, 6/8/12]

Economists: Obama's Jobs Plan Would Create Millions Of Jobs

Zandi: American Jobs Act Would Add Nearly 2 Million Jobs. UPI reported:

President Barack Obama's $447 billion job-creation plan would likely add 1.9 million payroll jobs and grow the U.S. economy 2 percent, a leading economist said.

The plan, which Obama outlined before a joint session of Congress Thursday, would likely cut the unemployment rate by a percentage point, Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi said as Obama prepared to tout the plan at Virginia's University of Richmond. [United Press International, 9/9/11]

Macroeconomic Advisers: American Jobs Act Would Be "A Significant Boost To GDP And Employment." From the blog of Macroeconomic Advisers LLC:

We estimate that the American Jobs Act (AJA), if enacted, would give a significant boost to GDP and employment over the near-term.

  • · The various tax cuts aimed at raising workers' after-tax income and encouraging hiring and investing, combined with the spending increases aimed at maintaining state & local employment and funding infrastructure modernization, would:
  • · Boost the level of GDP by 1.3% by the end of 2012, and by 0.2% by the end of 2013.
  • · Raise nonfarm establishment employment by 1.3 million by the end of 2012 and 0.8 million by the end of 2013, relative to the baseline.
  • · The program works directly to raise employment through tax incentives and support to state & local governments for increasing hiring; it works indirectly through the positive boost to aggregate demand (and hence hiring) stimulated by the direct spending and the increase in household income resulting from lower employee payroll taxes and increased employment. [Macroeconomic Advisers LLC, 9/8/11]

EPI: American Jobs Act Would "Increase Employment By About 4.3 Million Jobs." Economic Policy Institute research and policy director John Irons provided a "preliminary breakdown of the package and a first pass look at the job impact" of Obama's jobs plan:

Overall the package would increase employment by about 4.3 million jobs over the next couple of years. The new initiatives would boost employment by about 2.6 million jobs, while the continuation of the two temporary provisions (EUI and the payroll tax holiday) would prevent a backslide of over 1.6 million jobs.

There's still a big hole left to fill, but every step matters.

[Economic Policy Institute, 9/8/11]

EPI: If Public-Sector Jobs Are Added, "The Economy Would Benefit Significantly." The Economic Policy Institute stated how important adding public-sector jobs are to strengthening the economic recovery:

If public-sector employment had grown since June 2009 by the average amount it grew in the three previous recoveries (2.8 percent) instead of shrinking by 2.5 percent, there would be 1.2 million more public-sector jobs in the U.S. economy today. In addition, these extra public-sector jobs would have helped preserve about 500,000 private-sector jobs.

There is reason to be optimistic, though, as public-sector losses have moderated recently. If the sector begins to actually add jobs in the coming months, the economy would benefit significantly in 2012 and beyond. [Economic Policy Institute, 4/5/12]

American Jobs Act Would Prevent Massive Public Employee Layoffs. From a White House fact sheet on the American Jobs Act:

The President is proposing to invest $35 billion to prevent layoffs of up to 280,000 teachers, while supporting the hiring of tens of thousands more and keeping cops and firefighters on the job. These funds would help states and localities avoid and reverse layoffs now, requiring that funds be drawn down quickly. Under the President's proposal, $30 billion be directed towards educators and $5 billion would support the hiring and retention of public safety and first responder personnel. [WhiteHouse.gov, 9/8/11]

Posted In
Economy, Jobs, Wages, & Unemployment
Network/Outlet
U.S. News & World Report, Fox Nation
Person
Michael Scherer
Show/Publication
BuzzFeed
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