The added benefit of being true

THE ADDED BENEFIT OF BEING TRUE…. On “The Daily Show” the other night, Jon Stewart asked President Obama about unemployment, and the president responded with some relevant details.

“We lost 4 million jobs before I was sworn in; 750,000 jobs the month I was sworn in; 600,000, the month after that; 600,000 the month after that,” Obama noted. “So most of the jobs that we lost were lost before the economic policies we put in place had any effect.”

PolitiFact decided to see whether that was true. It was.

…Looking at BLS data on seasonally adjusted non-farm employment from December 2007, when the recession officially began, to January 2009, the month before the stimulus was enacted (a 25-month period), the jobs number declined by 4.4 million. So Obama’s first number was right, although he could have been clearer about the time frame. […]

“I watched the president on Stewart’s show last night, and I thought his basic point about the timing of the employment losses was correct and ought to be noncontroversial,” Gary Burtless, a labor markets expert at the centrist-to-liberal Brookings Institution said in an e-mail.

Of course, this assumes that objective, “noncontroversial” truths still matter. There’s reason to believe otherwise.

Indeed, most Americans will probably believe the exact opposite, while many more will react negatively to the truth, dismissing it as “Bush-bashing” and “making excuses.”

And voters who claim to care about job creation and economic growth will, in turn, elect more policymakers who want to go back to the policies that failed, and will then wonder why things didn’t get better.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.