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The job numbers: why stimulus foes are disastrously wrong

President Obama will take the rap for September's job numbers showing a net loss of 95,000 jobs. But guess what? Our supposedly "socialist" president is presiding over private-sector job growth. The losses are in government jobs.

That, in turn, shows just how wrongheaded and shortsighted are those who say all our problems come from a bloated public sector. On the contrary, the new jobs report shows a gain of 63,000 jobs in the private sector, but a loss of 159,000 government jobs. And, as Ezra Klein has already helpfully pointed out on his blog, the losses don't just come from the disappearance of temporary census jobs. Local governments showed a net loss of 76,000 jobs.

Government, which is supposed to act as a counter-cyclical force boosting the economy in a downturn, is now a drag on the recovery because Congress -- and, let's be honest, we are really talking about Republicans in Congress -- has blocked efforts to give more federal help to state and local governments that find themselves in a fiscal crisis.

Here's how the estimable David Leonhardt summarized the situation on his New York Times blog:

Local governments are cutting jobs at the fastest rate in almost 30 years.

They cut 76,000 jobs last month and over the last three months have cut 143,000 jobs, many in education, according to today's jobs report. That's 1 percent of total local-government employment across the country. Since the Labor Department began keeping records in the 1950s, the only other time that the cuts were so steep was in the harsh 1981-2 recession.

The federal government has been cutting jobs too in recent months -- partly because of the end of Census taking -- and state government governments have made small cuts in employment.

Great; so while everyone is saying how important education reform is, we are firing teachers -- not on the basis of their performance, but because local governments just don't have the money. While so many on the right and some in the establishment are saying our problem is excessive government, we're letting government layoffs block a robust recovery. Ezra has the irrationality of our approach exactly right: "We create the stimulus that helped the economy survive 2008 and 2009, and we've created the anti-stimulus that's keeping it from recovering in 2010."

But just watch as all our problems are blamed on a stimulus that may not have been big enough but worked, not on anti-stimulative policies that are clearly keeping us down.

By E.J. Dionne  | October 8, 2010; 11:08 AM ET
Categories:  Dionne  | Tags:  E.J. Dionne  
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Please tell me why democrats do not run on this issue? I'm really tired about how gutless they are. Maybe it's time for politicians to quit talking to and running their campaigns according to, consultants.

Posted by: mg11231 | October 8, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

EJ - local government cutting jobs..they should be for they are bloated. Just drive down any street and watch as your local DOT repairs have 6-7 guys standing around watching while 1-2 do the work.
Teachers - dont get me started - way back when - we had one teach for every 50-60 students and we worked out fine. Today - there's one teacher - a teacher aide foe 20 students and the test scores are terrible.....yeah its that over crowding - eh EJ? Look to Japan - 40-50-60 class sizes - and they outpace our public schools that are coddled any day cause of the unions.

Posted by: short1 | October 8, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

I'm with Dionne. Print trillions of bits of paper with a politician's face and rain it from helicopters.

In other words, after 50 years of hyper-progressivism, Republican & Democrat alike, there's nothing left to save. Sooner we crash, the better.

Everytime I hear this Keynesian magical thinking, I pinch myself.

Posted by: happyacres | October 8, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

I ALMOST feel pity for you Mr. Dionne.

You, as a Demo stooge, can't take blame for any of the numerous mistakes the majority party has done while in leadership.

Both the policies and the pols in charge; many bad and narrow interest decisions.

Geithner was a terrible choice... the Admin. bragged about their selection process then had the chutzpah to vet this tax cheat!?

The Stimulus for jobs. The remainder, (after saving Wall Street and GM) out of $787 billion, helped the cops and teachers mostly. They are still not thrilled.

Like anyone else; they want it all plus no criticism or oversight for bad cops or bad teachers.

No more accountability tests for effective instruction; a free hand to teach however they want.

After seeing how strong the economy is after this measure, do you think Americans are willing to double down on this fabulous return on our investments, Mr. Democrat?

Posted by: adamnescot1 | October 8, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

This has got to be one of the most laugh out loud ludicrous pieces ever, even for a partisan hack.

One month's data suddenly vindicates a fiscal policy anyone who isn't a crackhead realizes is insane.

I know, let's ring up 13+ trillion in debt, then print our own money to buy our own IOUs! Brilliant!

Dionne isn't a crackhead though, he is just being a good little employee at the Propaganda Division.

If he is even a quasi-reasonable man, he has divested himself of US$ holdings. But his message to the masses: more stimulus, more government, what a guy.

Posted by: burbworks | October 8, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse

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