I just listened to our local conservative again this morning on the way into work tell his listeners that it’s President Obama‘s fault that people are having to work two jobs due to his continued destruction of our economy. He invoked President Reagan during the diatribe and that got me thinking about some data points I’d been watching.
Here are the numbers regarding unemployment figures for both Reagan and Obama for their first 25 months in office. The first number for both is the final unemployment figure for the last full month of their predecessors.
Here’s the chart (updated through Sep 2015):
If you look carefully there’s quite a bit of reality to contend with here for conservatives.
First, note how both came into office at nearly identical figures though Obama had it slightly worse. Conservatives love to tell us that Reagan had to contend with the lousy economy handed off to him from President Carter. Yet unemployment under Carter was, as I’ve noted before, virtually flat for all four of his years in office. It ranged from 7.2% to 7.8% and was on the decline for several months before Reagan took office.
It then pretty much stayed down for 8 more months before beginning a continual 16-month climb as Reagan’s much-mythologized tax cuts took effect ending at 10.8% at the end of Reagan’s second year (or just a month and a half ago in relation to Obama).
I ask you in all seriousness: If this President had 16 straight months of rising unemployment reaching 10.8% just how crazy would the conservative onslaught be right now? Be honest. They’d be marching on Washington, guns in hand, to forcibly remove him from office.
Contrast that with Obama’s numbers. From the moment he steps into office he’s got a problem with an unemployment number that had been on a steady rise for 8 months prior to his taking office. That is what inheritance looks like. His unemployment figures continued on the very same trajectory before finally leveling off just 5 months into his first term. They then bounce around within half a percentage point topping off at 10.1% and then slowly dropping to their current rate of 9.0%.
These are simply the cold, hard facts of the matter. If you’re going to go off screaming about unemployment and invoking Reagan at least have your numbers in order before heading out the door.