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Obama: Yes, government can facilitate recovery

One other thing about Obama's appearance in Nevada today: It was good to see him restate the case that government can, in fact, faciliate economic recovery, in the face of a relentless campaign to discredit this idea.

This is better than what we've heard in recent days. The Obama administration had seemed to stray into a different message, arguing here and there that Obama knows "government can't create jobs," in order to deflect criticism from the right.

This pissed off some on the left -- see Duncan Black and Matthew Yglesias -- who rightly noted that the claim that government doesn't create jobs steps on the administration's claim that the stimulus has been a success because it has, well, created jobs.

Today in Nevada, though, Obama recapped the argument over the proper place of government and seemed to make a clearer case for government's role as a facilitator of recovery:

Now, there's a big debate raging in Washington about what the role of government should be in all this. But as I said on the campaign, and as I've repeated many times as President, I believe the greatest generator of jobs in America is our private sector. It's our entrepreneurs and innovators, who are willing to take a chance on a good idea. It's our businesses, large and small. The private sector -- not government -- is, was, and always will be the source of America's economic success.

That's why we've cut dozens of taxes for the middle class and small businesspeople, extended loan programs to put capital in the hands of startups and worked to reduce the cost of health care for small businesses. And Harry is fighting right now to pass additional tax breaks and loan authority to help small businesses grow and hire.

Our role in government, especially in difficult times like these, is to break down barriers that are standing in the way of innovation. It's to unleash the ingenuity that springs from our people. It's to provide an impetus for businesses to grow and expand. That's my view, and it isn't some abstract theory. We've seen the results. We've seen what we can do to catalyze job-growth in the private sector.

The obligatory paean to the private sector seems a bit defensive, and Obama's formulation here is not quite as direct as saying, "dammit, government can create jobs, and anyone who says otherwise should stuff it."

But to anyone who is listening, Obama is basically saying: "Yes, government is spending a huge amount of money, but the fundamental goal here is to right the private sector and oil its engines, which is exactly what government should be doing." That seems like a step in a good messaging direction.

By Greg Sargent  |  July 9, 2010; 2:32 PM ET
Categories:  Financial reform  
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"Our role in government, especially in difficult times like these, is to break down barriers that are standing in the way of innovation. It's to unleash the ingenuity that springs from our people. It's to provide an impetus for businesses to grow and expand."

Spoken like a true conservative!

Posted by: sbj3 | July 9, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

does this mean they administration will buck the deficit hawks' admonitions to cut cut cut - a la 1937?

Posted by: blahgblogwordpresscom | July 9, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm. A double-dip recession coming? You mean, shaped like a Dubya?

Posted by: jzap | July 9, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

The quote that you start with, expanded, reads: "Now, government can't create jobs, but it can help create the conditions for small businesses to grow and thrive and hire more workers."

And, unless you're talking specifically about government jobs, it says nothing different than the quote you've highlighted from the Nevada speech.

No need to set-up straw men, there's plenty to write about otherwise.

Posted by: converse | July 9, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Greenberg poll: 55% of LV say socialist is a good description of Obama. Disastrous numbers for Dems.

Posted by: Truthteller12 | July 9, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse


"Spoken like a true conservative!"

I know.

It's really shocking how "middle of the road" a socialist marxist nazi liberal weakling tyrant soft strongarming stupid teleprompter reading manipulating hippie corpratist can be.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | July 9, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse


don't confuse the narratives. they can only peddle one at a time. rightwing republicans have no difficulty switching between the contradictory narratives, but even they -- well many of them -- still can't quite hold both in their heads simultaneously.

Posted by: blahgblogwordpresscom | July 9, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

oopps -- bb*q*...

Posted by: blahgblogwordpresscom | July 9, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse


am i correct to assume you agree he's a socialist?

do you also believe he's -- at the same time -- a fascist, like so many of the teabaggers ridiculously claim?

Posted by: blahgblogwordpresscom | July 9, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Greg: The quote you highlight points to a telling fact: Forty years ago, Barrack Obama would probably have been considered a Moderate Republican. It is for that reason that incrementalism is contraindicated; there is simply too much ground to make up. I'm not sure who agrees but, in my opinion, the United States is on the verge of a precipitous decline. Time is NOT on our side.

Posted by: wbgonne | July 9, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

""Spoken like a true conservative!""

I guess SBJ didn't get the memo that Democrats are the true fiscal conservatives today.

The only thing "conservatives" conserve is the wealth of the top 2% richest people on Earth at the expense of everyone and everything else.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | July 9, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Forty years ago, wb, the federal government spent no where near what it does today to help create jobs (as a percent of fed budget or gnp). Calling Obama a moderate republican of 1970 is like calling Hubert Humphrey a fascist. History much?

Posted by: converse | July 9, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

converse: I don't get your point. I am simply noting how much the political pendulum has swung right in this country since then. Do you dispute that?

Posted by: wbgonne | July 9, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

All, some Friday fun:

Posted by: Greg Sargent | July 9, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

My point is: You're wrong. The percentage of the federal budget that goes towards social programs and job creation has grown tremendously since 1970. Since the "socialist" (imo, a good thing) part of the federal government has grown, this means we have moved LEFT, not right. Obama has done nothing but increase this movement to the left since he has taken office. Sorry you don't get it, but it's true nonetheless.

Posted by: converse | July 9, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Well, Converse, I rescind my respectful disagreement with you. You are nuts. Because only a nut would think the United States has moved Left from 1979 to 2010. Sorry, but that's the diagnosis.

Posted by: wbgonne | July 9, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Should not 1970 not 1979. But you're still nuts.

Posted by: wbgonne | July 9, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

It's pretty obvious that you weren't even born in 1970, wb, and haven't bothered to study any real history. Your short-sightedness and paranoia are laughable. The facts are as they are. Do you have something that says otherwise, or do you just want to call names some more?

Posted by: converse | July 9, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

"Do you have something that says otherwise, or do you just want to call names some more?"

Nope. I'm done with you. Enjoy!

Posted by: wbgonne | July 9, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

That's what I thought, those who consider themselves the far left are as empty of facts as the far right.

Posted by: converse | July 9, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

O/T - but oh my - this is one nasty race:

"Thursday and Friday morning President Barack Obama took time away from his busy schedule of playing golf and suing the state of Arizona to fly to Las Vegas and host a swanky fundraiser for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Obama spoke to a packed house of lobbyists and special-interest groups. During the speech, approximately 2,000,000 gallons of oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico and thousands of workers continued to be displaced."

Posted by: sbj3 | July 9, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

This step in the RIGHT direction, could have been taken on January 21 2009.
He was in a good spot at that time, he had a lot of independents and Dems fooled. He could have reached out to the right and made this move for business owners from the start and set a good tone. Instead, he just pushed healthcare down people's throat. The damage is done, he shows us who he is.... A good DNC chairman maybe.

Posted by: zippidy1 | July 9, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

I just find this messaging criticism strange. Isn't what he said in Nevada what he has been saying consistently for the past oh 2 years? can't be bothered to look up the quotes right now but when I read it my feeling was that he was repeating the same lines he has been saying since the start of his Presidency. A bit annoying since it is repetitive but consistent nonetheless.

Posted by: homeruk | July 9, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

I'm not a big fan of Obama, all he has done is continue and expand on Bush/Cheney policies. Likewise Democrats are too centrist to be anything but puppets of the right-wing. Take a look at this, it clarifies my point:

Posted by: scottdavene | July 10, 2010 1:12 AM | Report abuse

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