Defying explanation

When the most recent monthly job totals were released on Friday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said, “One look at the jobs report should be enough to show the White House it’s time to get serious about cutting spending.” That doesn’t make any sense.

But the deteriorating employment picture seems to have emboldened those who are the most misguided to believe they’re also the most correct. The Hill reported over the weekend, “Freshmen House Republicans are sticking to their guns on the need for immediate spending cuts in light of Friday’s dismal jobs report. First-term members interviewed by The Hill said the jobs report released Friday — which showed unemployment rising to 9.1 percent — is all the proof anyone should need that government spending doesn’t stimulate the economy.”

This extends to presidential politics, too. Mitt Romney continues to argue that President Obama inherited an economic mess, but made matters “worse.” When that was fact-checked, and proven false, Romney said it again.

I’m curious about how Republicans explain what transpired in 2009, immediately after the stimulus took effect.

Here, for example, is a chart showing private-sector job losses per month in the year before President Obama took office.

It’s obviously not a pretty sight. The month Obama was inaugurated, America’s private sector lost a remarkable 841,000 jobs. That was just in one month.

Now, if Obama’s policies made matters worse, we’d expect to see those columns move even lower. If Obama’s policies made things better, we’d expect to see the monthly totals improve. So, take a look at what transpired over the first 14 months the president was in office:

This shows private-sector jobs only, so it’s not skewed by Census jobs. Obama took office, the stimulus took effect, and the job market quickly improved.

What I’m curious about is how Republicans explain this. How is this even possible? Democrats spent a lot of money, deliberately made the deficit much worse, and imposed their preferred regulatory policies. The economy grew, the recession (technically) ended, and the job market got significantly better.

Does the right have an explanation for such developments? Was it magic? Was it a coincidence? Or is it possible that all of that spending actually made things better?

It’s not a rhetorical question. I’d really like to know.