The House GOP's Logical Fallacy

May 11, 2009 6:37 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

In an email to supporters, the House Republican conference cited recent unemployment reports -- which were better than expected -- as evidence that President Obama's economic policies aren't working.

Today, the House Republican Conference sent an email to supporters attempting to use "continued unemployment claims" as evidence that President Obama's economic recovery package is not working.  However, their supposed "proof" demonstrated a remarkable lack of logical reasoning.

Consider the following chart, included in the email, pitting recent unemployment trends against Obama's declaration that the recovery act "has already saved or created over 150,000 jobs." But the unemployment numbers do not undermine Obama's claim, as the chart clearly implies.  Obama's statement merely denotes that, without the stimulus, 150,000 more jobs would have been lost -- a claim that is substantiated by the fact that April's job losses were lower than expected.  As reported by the Associated Press, "Losses averaged 700,000 a month in the first quarter but dropped to 539,000 in April, according to Friday's Labor Department report." Moreover, there are encouraging signs that the economy is starting to turn around:

  • The number of newly laid-off workers filing applications for jobless benefits plunged to the lowest level in 14 weeks.
  • Sales at many retailers fared better in April, with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. leading the way.
  • Construction spending rose in March, the first increase after five straight months of declines. An index of pending home sales also ticked up.
  • The U.S. services sector contracted in April at a slower pace than the prior month.

While a rising unemployment rate is hardly good news, it's clear that President Obama's policies are starting to produce positive results.  Yet, instead of reassuring the American people that things will get better, the GOP is still holding on to hope that Obama will fail.