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Unemployment Down for First Time Since April 2008. Republican Hubris Still On the Rise.

Seven months ago, as Obama was preparing to take office, we were all scared shitless. There’s no other way to put it. Republicans and Democrats alike were terrified about what might happen to the economy in the coming months and years.  Here’s what Paul Krugman had to say in a January 4 op-ed in the New York Times:

The fact is that recent economic numbers have been terrifying, not just in the United States but around the world. Manufacturing, in particular, is plunging everywhere. Banks aren’t lending; businesses and consumers aren’t spending. Let’s not mince words: This looks an awful lot like the beginning of a second Great Depression.

Today, however, the picture looks much more encouraging:

The long-battered U.S. job market showed some signs of improvement in July as employers cut far fewer jobs from payrolls and the unemployment rate fell for the first time in more than a year, according to a government report Friday.The Labor Department reported a net loss of 247,000 jobs in July, the fewest job losses since August 2008. Economists surveyed by had forecast a loss of 325,000.

The job loss in June was also revised lower — to 443,000 job losses from 467,000. The unemployment rate fell to 9.4% from 9.5% in June, the first decline in that closely watched reading since April of 2008. Economists had expected unemployment to rise to 9.6%.

President Obama, as expected, is being cautiously optimistic:

Today, we’re pointed in the right direction. While we’ve rescued our economy from catastrophe, we’ve also begun to build a new foundation for growth. We have a lot further to go. As far as I’m concerned, we will not have a true recovery until we stop losing jobs.

Republicans leaders, however, are singing a different tune. On Sunday, as word of the good economic news was beginning to emerge, John McCain made a point of raining on the parade:

The stimulus has had some effect, but what I worry about are the long-term effects, because what we are doing is committing generational theft. We have put trillions of additional debt on future generations of Americans. The stimulus package, I believe, was so large and the deficit and debt problem is so overwhelming, that Americans now are very concerned about their children’s futures and the debt we’re laying on them. And so I think that has contributed to lack of progress on health care.

Two points to ponder about the good news and the sour Republican response:

1) McCain, in his hubris, seemed ignorant of the past 28 years of American history.  Republican presidents have consistently mushroomed the debt, while Clinton did a good job of reigning in spending and bringing the debt down. And the only reason Obama has been required to spend so much is to clean up the economic and health care messes that the GOP has left behind. Will the Republicans ever own up to their failed policies, or do they think America is short-sighted enough to blame Obama even as he is succeeding in turning things around?

2) Imagine that McCain had won the election, and that six months into his term we were seeing the same signs of recovery. What do you think the Republicans would be saying? 

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Jim Moss

Jim Moss