“Uh, Mr. President, where are the jobs?” Speaker of the House John Boehner
“Right in front of your swollen red nose, Yellowboy,” President Obama
One reason I write for this blog is because Big Media seems to have no long-term memory from which to provide perspective. In that respect, it’s kind of like voters.
At MNPP, at least we try to get something like perspective out there, if only for less imaginative mainstream media hacks to have something fresh to colonize. Call it professional courtesy.
Witness Big Media’s reaction to the latest jobs report for March: the economy — we are told — created “only” 126,000 jobs, which the mainstream media was quick to use for their nightly broadcast and website email teasers as a lead-in, and which went something like: “OMG! The jobs report for March was ONLY 126,000!! The economy must be tanking again! We’re doomed, DOOMED!!! Let’s all crap our pants!!!”
Even the venerable New York Times couldn’t resist giving the report a long shadow — U.S. Economy Gained 126,000 Jobs in March, an Abrupt Slowdown in Hiring. It did attribute the downturn in new jobs creation to an economy impacted by horrible spring weather and chronically low gas prices. But it didn’t say that the slowdown was likely to be temporary until the twelfth graph when the feeble news-desk editor who cleared the story deigned to allow this little gem for the sake of adding some perspective:
“It was lower than expectations, without a doubt,” said Thomas E. Perez, the secretary of labor. “But I’ve always said that one month never makes a trend.”
Mr. Perez said that if someone told him last year, when the unemployment rate was 6.6 percent, that it would now be at 5.5 percent, “I would have said that’s an April Fool’s joke.”
Last year, the drop in the nation’s output that accompanied a harsh winter was followed by an unusually strong rebound in the spring. Job growth during that cold snap was also disappointing before surging ahead the rest of the year.
It’s that kind of 30,000 foot perspective that’s wanted in a story like this, but should be offered early, in the third or fourth graph, as opposed to a breathless, film-at-eleven dick teaser.
I know, I know. Adding balance and perspective to a news story which otherwise might be seen by the public as reflecting negatively on Obama, or the Democrats, or Godless Baby-killing Liberals (GBKL) in general, makes right-wing butt-hurt media trolls leap from their Barcalounger® Pegasus II™ 6-Position Recliners and scream, “Again with the liberal media bias! You f*kkers!” — a charge that, for inexplicable reasons, managing editors across the land seem to fear.
But why? Let’s remember that when Obama took office, there was a nationwide cadre of respected economists who said that the damage done to the economy was so severe it would take at least ten years to recover all the jobs lost and the Dow to once again top 11,000. And there was a lot of sentiment that with the enormous additional debt we’d incur trying to dig ourselves out of the hole we were in, the US could turn into a “zombie” economy alá Japan for another ten years after that. Instead, Obama’s policies created 12.1 million new private sector jobs in just 5 years and the Dow topped 11,000 on April 9, 2010, fully five years ago. The economy is growing at a healthy rate, maybe not gangbusters but the inflation rate is at 0%, the annual deficit has been cut by more than half, and real wages for American workers have begun to rise for the first time in decades.
Allz I’m sayin’ is there’s room for some perspective in the story, regardless of what a stringer of bushnesiac radcon coulter crackers have to say about it.
If Obama were a white guy and a Republican with the same record of accomplishment in saving an economy in free-fall, in reviving a TKO’d auto industry bleeding from the ears and hanging by it’s elbows from the ropes, and in creating more than 12 million new jobs in a record 61 months of uninterrupted job growth, the GOP would have chiseled his likeness into Mount Rushmore by now and rushed a bill through Congress to have his image printed on the $100 dollar bill and a national holiday established on his birthday. They’d label his policies “Obamanomics” and they’d tout his near-mystical economic genius to the very heavens. Except that he’s not white and he’s not Republican, so conversely everything he does is a threat to the economy, endangers the national security, and will saddle subsequent generations of Americans with a lifetime of debt. Proof positive that to be an unconflicted Republican, you have to be a binary thinker.
My advice to news-desk editors: Guys, it’s time to remasculate and tell the ‘net trolls to go play “America the Beautiful” on the Der-der. You’ve got better things to do than listen to them bitch and moan. Perspective in a news story is not bias, and you know it; it’s quality journalism. At least try to be professional, won’t you?
Here’s where being a political blogger with a memory comes in handy for MNPP readers who like to read articles with some substance. There was a time — oh, not so very long ago — when 5.5 percent unemployment was considered by many economists to be the upper range of FULL employment. The theory is that it’s healthy for an economy to have some unemployment, because it means that there is an adequate mix of both available jobs and available job-seekers to help drive both economic growth and productivity at a level that doesn’t also drive wage-price inflation. But did a single Big Media outlet in the entire country happen to mention it by way of creating a balanced perspective on the latest jobs report? Phuque gnoh! It appears that that glittery factoid was only worth mentioning during the Reagan and Bush economies — ‘cuz, see, they’re Republicans and know about business n’shyt. In short, it seems that special media rules apply.
Regardless, a fair number of brainy folks who get paid a lot more than you and me to be smart about economic matters still hold to the view that the US now might be at full employment. At least, some of the folks at that bastion of liberal propaganda, the Wall Street Journal, reported a month ago on March 6: “Some Fed Officials Think the U.S. Economy Is Already at Full Employment.”
The U.S. economic recovery reached another milestone in February: The nation’s unemployment rate fell to 5.5%, the top end of the range considered normal by most Federal Reserve policy makers.
That’s a significant threshold because it represents what many economists call the Non-accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment, or NAIRU. The Fed could try to push the unemployment rate lower, but in theory that would stoke inflation–and the U.S. central bank’s mandate is to pursue both “maximum employment” and “stable prices.”
So there you have it. There’s a defensible argument to be made that President Obama succeeded against the most optimistic expectations of economists in fully recovering all the jobs lost in the Great Recession and in returning the American work force to full employment. And when you consider that he did it with monolithic obstruction, resistance and foot-dragging by the Republican-held Congress — including repeated refusals to raise the debt ceiling, backing out of the Grand Bargain at the last minute, a lengthy government shut-down, stalling his nominees, rat-holing his jobs bills, devaluing the country’s bond ratings, etc. — it’s a record of achievement impossible to ignore.
At least, it’s impossible to ignore for any fair-minded and responsible purveyor of news and opinion.