Yesterday, President Barack Obama did a very foolish thing. He made a statement with enough latitude that Republicans were able to take it out of context, twist the meaning, and make a very credible case for their lies about Obama’s position.
With good reason, presidents have long been said to hold the power of the bully pulpit. But when President Obama sought to wield it on Friday, by calling a White House news conference to showcase his concern for the economy and Republicans’ refusal to work with him, he was the one who ended up getting pummeled.
By late afternoon, Mr. Obama was forced to clarify one line from his morning session with reporters — “the private sector is doing fine” — after Congressional Republicans and his presidential rival, Mitt Romney, had seized on the comment to criticize Mr. Obama as out-of-touch and detached from the millions of Americans who cannot find jobs or have given up looking.
“Listen, it is absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine. That’s the reason I had the press conference,” Mr. Obama said in clarifying his earlier remark when asked about Mr. Romney’s criticism during an Oval Office appearance with the president of the Philippines, Benigno S. Aquino III… [emphasis added]
Inserted from <NY Times>
The context of Obama’s speech, in which he made that statement, is the difference between the job increases in private sector job growth and the job decreases in public sector job growth. He meant that the private sector is doing a much better at job creation than the public sector, as the above graph demonstrates. That’s what he should have said. (The sudden increases followed by decreases in public sector workers in 2010 reflects the temporary hiring of census workers.)
Michael Eric Dyson clarifies the context and shows how Romney’s reply is far more egregious than anything Obama said. Robert Reich explains the economics.
As for Christie, note that Obama did not blame state and local governments, as Christie claims. Obama said that many of the cuts were occasioned by drops in federal support. Romney’s assertion that we don’t need more firemen, policemen and teachers shows that he is the one out of touch with the American people. But those are the people Romney wants cut. Every penny Democrats spend on a fireman, policeman, or teacher is a penny Republicans can’t give to a billionaire.
Republicans keep harping that the unemployment rate is over 8%, but, had Republicans not obstructed adding public sector jobs in multiple proposals from Obama, unemployment would be 7.9% at most.