Monday, October 22, 2012

The Republican Myth on Job Creation

If one looks at the employment numbers, one of the reasons that the unemployment level remains high is that hundreds of thousands of government employees have lost their jobs since the U.S. economy tanked in 2008 largely as a result of Republican policies.  And who has led the push to fire government employees at the state and local levels?  Republican governors, of course.  While Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan chant over and over again - with no data to back up their claim -  that government doesn't create jobs, government can and does create unemployment.  So the truth is that government may not create private sector jobs, it does create the public sector jobs that go towards providing the infrastructure that is conducive to private sector job growth.   Public sector jobs likewise generate incomes that help support consumer oriented private business in sectors as diverse as home building to grocery stores, to automobile sales.  The New York Times looks at the myth being recited by Romney/Ryan as if it were some truth filled mantra.  It's not.  Here are highlights:

Government does not create jobs. Except that it does, millions of them — including teachers, police officers, firefighters, soldiers, sailors, astronauts, epidemiologists, antiterrorism agents, park rangers, diplomats, governors (Mr. Romney’s old job) and congressmen (like Paul Ryan). 

First, the basics. At last count, government at all levels — federal, state and local — employed 22 million Americans, with the largest segment working in public education. Is that too many? No. Since the late 1980s, the number of public-sector workers has averaged about 7.3 for every 100 people. With the loss of 569,000 government jobs since June 2009, that ratio now stands at about 7 per 100. 

Public-sector job loss means trouble for everyone. Government jobs are crucial to education, public health and safety, environmental protection, defense, homeland security and myriad other functions that the private sector cannot fulfill. They are also critical for private-sector job growth in two fundamental ways. First, the government gets its supplies from private-sector companies, which is why Republican senators like John McCain have been frantically warning about the dire effects on job creation if Congress moves ahead with planned military spending cuts. (Republicans insisted upon the cuts as part of their ill-advised showdown over the debt ceiling.) Second, government spending on supplies and salaries reverberates strongly through the economy, increasing demand and with it, employment. 

That means the economy suffers when government cuts back. A report by the Economic Policy Institute examined the effect of recent cutbacks at the state and local level — including direct loss of government jobs and indirect loss of suppliers’ jobs; the jobs that should have been added to keep up with population growth; and the reduction in purchasing power from other cutbacks. If not for state and local budget austerity, the report found, the economy would have 2.3 million more jobs today, half of which would be in the private sector. 

The government does not create jobs? It most certainly does. And at this time of state budgetary hardship, a dose of federal fiscal aid to states and localities could create more jobs, in both the public and private sectors. 

The truth doesn't fit with the alternate universe that has become the almost permanent abode of the GOP and its Christofascist/Tea Party base.  That, however, doesn't make this reality on job creation any less true.  Simply saying something is so, doesn't make it so, yet Mitt Romney is hoping that Americans are too stupid to think through the process on their own.

No comments: