Post hoc ergo propter hoc

There’s a fair amount of talk today about who’s to blame for the weakening job market. It got me thinking about how Republicans play this game.

When the jobs reports were looking quite good in the early spring, Republican leaders were eager to take credit for the positive numbers they had nothing to do with. Needless to say, GOP officials are no longer claiming responsibility, and are in fact now eager to point fingers everywhere else. It’s a nice little scam Republicans have put together: when more jobs are being created, it’s proof they’re right; when fewer jobs are being created, it’s proof Obama’s wrong. Heads they win; tails Dems lose.

With this in mind, let’s consider the recent developments the way a Republican would. Here’s a chart showing private-sector job creation in the latter half of 2010, when stimulus money was still being spent, and when Democrats enjoyed the congressional majority.

And here’s a chart showing private-sector job creation so far in 2011, after stimulus spending largely ended, Republicans took control of the U.S. House and most of the nation’s gubernatorial offices, and the national discourse pivoted from jobs to the deficit and debt.

Now, I know full well that the job market isn’t weak because of GOP gains, and I also know better than to make a post hoc ergo propter hoc mistake.

But I do take some enjoyment from looking at these developments as a Republican would. Indeed, Mitt Romney likes to talk all about who “made things worse.”

So, you tell me. Were we on track before Republicans gains or after?