Obama’s Public Sector Jobs Shakedown

How many government jobs would satisfy the President and the Democrats?

President Obama kicked up a lot of dust when, in the course of answering a reporter’s question about the economy, he announced that “the private sector is doing fine.”  His media defenders assure us it was an unscripted slip and the Conservative reaction was just silly campaign hullabaloo.  But that startling assertion, combined with what he said next, and what he’s been saying in carefully scripted speeches add up to some interesting revelations regarding ObamaNomics.  [continued below the chart]First, consider Obama’s very next sentences after “doing fine:”

Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do [sic] with state and local government—oftentimes, cuts initiated by governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don’t have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in.

The chart above provides context to The President’s apparent belief that “the economy” suffers from too few state and local government employees.  Any reasonable person not associated with public employee unions would wonder:

  • Why are the taxpayers are burdened with so many people on the public payroll, especially in unionized states where they receive higher than average salaries plus gilded health and retirement benefits?
  • Why does the President want Congress to tax or borrow even more resources from the private sector to fund government payrolls? 
  • How many government jobs would be enough government jobs?

As the chart to the right shows, reality contradicts the President.  Federal grants to state and local governments soared when he and the Democrats took over in 2009, and are still at elevated levels.  Why does he speak as if there had been no extra money for states and cities?

This wasn’t the first time Obama voiced his belief that the economy was short on government jobs.

In his June 9 weekly address Obama said

Now, I know states are still going through some tough times.  I realize that every Governor is dealing with limited resources and many face stark choices when it comes to their budgets.  But that doesn’t mean we should just stand by and do nothing.  When states struggle, it’s up to Congress to step in and help out.

But again, “stand by and do nothing” is simply not what has happened.  The data in the chart shows Congress has already acted in exactly as Obama demands.  Grants to states and cities are still at record high levels.

Here’s an excerpt from the President’s speech in Albany, New York on May 8.

And it’s worth noting, by the way — this is just a little aside — after there was a recession under Ronald Reagan, government employment went way up.  It went up after the recessions under the first George Bush and the second George Bush. So each time there was a recession with a Republican President, compensated — we compensated by making sure that government didn’t see a drastic reduction in employment.  The only time government employment has gone down during a recession has been under me.  So I make that point just so you don’t buy into this whole bloated government argument that you hear.

But, as the big chart up at the top shows the President is simply wrong about the recession Reagan inherited.  There was a significant dip in state and local government employment.  And what  characterization other than bloated government better fits the record of state and local payrolls growing at three times the rate of population growth?

The chart to the right shows that federal grants to help fund state and local governments went down, not up during the recession of the 1980s. 

The President’s entire narrative is blown up by simply presenting  the data. 

  • The recent, tiny dip in government payrolls is not unprecedented, and is probably long overdue. but,
  • The abrupt increase in federal payments to state and local governments is unprecedented. 

Obama and his apostles in the media and academia promised back in 2009 that these grants to states and cities, combined with other programs that added up to massive increases in total government spending, borrowing and debt would, in the President’s own words, “jumpstart job creation and economic growth.  Most Americans need no charts to know the promised prosperity has not materialized.

Obama’s deliberate, scripted remarks in several speeches confirm that his vision of a healthy economy is one based more on government authority than on liberty and the private sector ideas, inventions, innovations that flourish when the people enjoy full economic liberty.


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