A statement by President Barack Obama is being taken out-of-context and used as a weapon by his Republican opponents.
In a press conference held Friday at the White House, Obama discussed the growth in jobs in the private sector as compared to a shrinking public sector.
The truth of the matter is that, as I’ve 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.
This is not really in dispute. In the last 27 months, the private sector has added 4.3 million jobs, while the public sector has shed 550,000 jobs. Indeed, if public sector jobs had just stayed flat over the past 27 months, the economy would be essentially at a break-even for jobs during Obama’s time in office.
However, because Obama’s statement can be divorced from context and turned into a single line — “The private sector is doing fine” — Republicans and the media have attacked Obama.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., sounded the typical theme. In a press conference, Cantor said:
My question would be to the president, are you kidding? Did he see the job numbers that came out last week? The private sector is not doing fine. And, frankly, Iíd ask the president to stop engaging in the blame game. Itís not because of the headwinds of Europe. Itís not, despite his attempt and his partyís attempts here in Congress, it is not because of House Republicans. Itís because of the failed stimulus policies and other items in his agenda that small businesses in this country just†arenít growing.
Of course, when the vast majority of jobs lost have been in the public sector, it makes it hard to argue that government is not playing a role in the downturn.
A functional media probably would note the context of what Obama said, but the American media is anything but functional. At Buzzfeed, Zeke Miller declared Obama’s line a “gift,” despite posting a chart that showed consistent private job growth as compared to consistent public job losses.
Obama later clarified his remarks, according to MSNBC, saying, “It is absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine. That’s why I had a press conference.” But he shot back at Republicans who were criticizing him.
“You know, and what I’m interested in hearing from Congress and Mr. Romney is what steps are they willing to take right now that are going to make an actual difference?” Obama said. “And so far, all we’ve heard are additional tax cuts to the folks who are doing fine, as opposed to taking steps that would actually help deal with the weaknesses in the economy and promote the kind of economic growth that we would all like to see.”
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