One of the final jobs reports before the election next month was released today and it found unemployment dropping to 7.8% for the first time since Barack Obama took office. Unemployment was on a steady rise from a low of 4.6% (in August 2007) and had reached 7.8% when he was sworn in.
Republicans like to tell you that the unemployment rate is a work of fiction—that the numbers are being manipulated to paint the best picture. They point out that it doesn’t take into account all those who’ve stopped looking for work. That’s true. What they’re not saying is that this is the way it’s been measured for decades—and that includes during Ronald Reagan‘s highly-regarded administration. The same creative accounting that took place with Obama also took place during Reagan’s term.
Another distortion is that no President has ever been re-elected with unemployment numbers this high. However, Obama would simply be taking a page out of Ronald Reagan’s book once again. Reagan was re-elected in November 1984 riding a jobs report of 7.4% – just a 0.4% difference between the two incumbents.
By the way, it’s not just jobs where Obama and Reagan seem to be playing from the same book. The Dow under Reagan had gone from 937.20 at his election down to 776.92 (after his much-touted, re-imagined but catastrophic tax cuts) to climb back up to 1,216.65 at his re-election (a 23% increase). The Dow on election day in 2008 was 9,625.28. As of this writing it stands at 13,629.73 (a 14% increase).
My point remains as it always has. If Ronald Reagan’s approach was the hallmark for results then whatever President Obama has done seems to be providing eerily similar results. Here’s the chart again:
The final three months of the chart are estimated for Obama based on the prior trending. It’s interesting that they both seemed to hit a wall just months prior to their second-term elections. You should also note that Reagan’s flat-line at the end lasted from June, 1984 all the way through June of 1986—a full two years later. At that point unemployment began to drop steadily for the next two-and-a-half years. This was five years after the much-ballyhooed tax cuts that were reversed entirely soon after they were initiated and decimated the economy (which is mainly what caused the huge Mt. Everest-like climb in unemployment you see back in July, 1981).
If you don’t believe me then please take a look at the numbers from that bastion of liberalism and socialism—The Wall Street Journal from today. Romney and Republicans love to point out that overall jobs are down (61,000 jobs) since he took office in 2009. That’s true. Again, however, it’s only part of the story. The amazing part of it is that what they’re not telling you is the very part that actually matches exactly what they want from a President! Private payrolls are up 514,000 jobs while government payrolls are down 575,000 jobs. Does this sound at all like the President Republicans have been touting as the pinnacle of socialism? He’s cut 575,000 government jobs and boosted private sector jobs after a horrible blow to the economy. This once again underscores that many simply have no real understanding or interest in knowing what socialism is. If they truly knew what it meant or were simply being honest about it they’d be admitting that this is one area where Obama has delivered—but that’s just not going to happen.
These are simply the facts. When you hear Republicans talking about the perfect model and how Mitt Romney is the man to take us there think about reality. What Romney’s talking about—if we believe that what he’s saying is actually what he’s planning (I actually believe he’s not going to deliver on this, but instead, do what he’s always done and move quickly to the middle as he did in Massachusetts)—is to do what Reagan did between Inauguration Day, 1980 and July, 1981. Is that really the legacy we want to be hoping for? Stop wishing for the nightmare portion of the dream and demand the actual good part for a change.