When one year beats eight

WHEN ONE YEAR BEATS EIGHT…. Back in April, Ron Brownstein made an observation that seemed hard to believe: “If the economy produces jobs over the next eight months at the same pace as it did over the past four months, the nation will have created more jobs in 2010 alone than it did over the entire eight years of George W. Bush’s presidency.”

Of course, that was before crises in Europe caused an international slowdown. It was easier to make that kind of prediction in April, when job growth looked pretty good, without knowing the kind of trouble that was around the corner.

But as it turns out, the observation is still true. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) noted yesterday that President Obama and the Democratic Congress have created “more jobs in 2010 than President Bush did over eight years,” and while that seems fanciful, it happens to be true.

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The Washington Post published this chart about a year ago, showing job growth by decade. Notice that red line down towards the bottom? That shows the anemic job creation over the first decade of the 21st century.

Indeed, it went largely ignored at the time, but when the GOP’s Bush/Cheney ticket sought a second term in 2004, it was the first in generations to go four years with a net job growth of zero.

All told, for the entirety of Bush’s eight years in office, the net job gain was about 1 million. In 2010, and just 2010, the net job gain was about 1.1 million. What’s more, 2010 wasn’t an especially good year; on the contrary, the 1.1 million jobs created last year reflected a frustratingly weak employment market.

But it managed to top Bush’s total anyway.

There’s a larger significance to this, beyond marveling at the failures of the Bush/Cheney era, and that is the widely held belief in Republican circles that those Bush/Cheney policies worked.

Remember, for eight years, the Republican administration got the precise economic policies it wanted. From taxes to regulation, investment to trade, Bush was able to do exactly how he pleased — and the results were a disaster.

This matters a great deal today, not only because we’re still living with the consequences of spectacular Republican failures, but because GOP leaders are absolutely convinced that the country will benefit if we go back to Bush’s economic policies. They’ve been explicit on this point, insisting the country needs to go back to the “exact same agenda” that’s already been proven not to work.

In the midst of these larger debates, let’s not forget how completely crazy this is.