GOP leaders stop taking credit for job data

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. After all, as far as GOP officials were concerned, their mere presence in the House majority was enough to inspire job creators everywhere.

But if Republicans demanded credit for the job totals in the spring, these same Republicans are desperate to avoid blame for job totals in the summer. 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 Democrats are wrong.

Heads they win; tails Obama loses.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), in an apparent attempt at self-parody, said this morning that “private-sector job growth continues to be undermined,” at least in part, by the “threat of higher taxes.” Seriously, that’s what he said. The very idea that someone, somewhere, might at some time might be asked some additional amount in taxes is enough to undermine job growth.

I can only hope the Speaker doesn’t actually believe his own dumb rhetoric.

Regardless, following up on a little exercise from July, let’s play the game in a way Boehner might like, using Republican rules. 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 certainly know better than to make a post-hoc-ergo-propter hoc mistake, but I wonder if the Speaker would be kind enough to consider the trends. The “threat of higher taxes” existed last year, as did Democratic regulatory enforcement, and a large deficit. And yet, job growth improved. Then Republicans took office.

I can appreciate why the GOP wouldn’t want the blame, even though it’s conservative policies standing in the way of improving the economy. But if Republicans want to claim credit for the job market in April, they should expect responsibility for the same job market in September.

Update: Kevin Park took this a little further, showing the larger trends since 2001. It’s a terrific visual, especially when one notices how much the public sector grew under Bush.