Gov. Barbour And American Crossroads Rewrite Economic History

November 08, 2011 12:04 pm ET — Kate Conway

Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) may not be running for re-election in today's Mississippi gubernatorial race, but he doesn't seem to be making a quiet exit from the national stage, either. In a video posted yesterday, the outgoing governor teamed up with the Karl Rove-linked super PAC American Crossroads to deliver a monologue bashing President Obama and his policies.

Accompanied by animated American Crossroads graphics, Barbour takes Obama to task over unemployment, claiming that "unemployment got much worse than had we not passed" the Recovery Act.

Gov. Haley Barbour in American Crossroads video

BARBOUR: In the last three years unemployment has gone up and stayed up. We now have the highest structural unemployment since the great depression. Obama said his stimulus plan would turn things around, that without the stimulus unemployment would get worse. So the Pelosi-Reid Congress passed the stimulus, and unemployment got much worse than had we not passed it.

This is one of the GOP's favorite ways to skew numbers in their favor, but it's an accusation without any merit — primarily because those two dotted-line projections (which were in line with what independent economists were predicting at the time) were later revised to reflect an economic picture much worse than anyone had previously realized. According to White House economist Jared Bernstein, dismal fourth-quarter 2008 jobs numbers weren't available at the time those predictions were made, obscuring the depth of the recession, and just a month after the GOP's favorite "8 percent" number appeared in a report, the unemployment forecast had already been revised upwards.

Gov. Barbour's suggestion that the stimulus actively made unemployment worse is even more far-fetched; the only way to make that claim stick is to blame cascading job losses left over from Bush-era policies on an Obama policy that hadn't yet had time to take effect. There's some solid evidence that job losses slowed once stimulus money worked its way into the economy. In fact, the private sector has added 1.6 million net jobs since then.