April 05, 2011 12:00 pm ET
The premise of the RNC's new attack website, HopeIsntHiring.com, is that President Obama has nothing more than positive rhetoric and good vibes to offer to those hardest hit by the recession. But if you account for the facts in telling the story of the past two years, things aren't nearly so convenient for the GOP. Far from an aloof figure during the worst financial crisis since the 1930s, President Obama has pushed policies that turned the economy around past Republican obstructionism. The strong rebound in private-sector job growth over the past two years proves the 'Hiring' site is just another vacuous gimmick.
The Economy Shed Almost 8 Million Jobs Under Republican Policies Before The Recovery Act Could Affect The Economy. According to economist Robert J. Shapiro:
From December 2007 to July 2009 - the last year of the Bush second term and the first six months of the Obama presidency, before his policies could affect the economy - private sector employment crashed from 115,574,000 jobs to 107,778,000 jobs. Employment continued to fall, however, for the next six months, reaching a low of 107,107,000 jobs in December of 2009. So, out of 8,467,000 private sector jobs lost in this dismal cycle, 7,796,000 of those jobs or 92 percent were lost on the Republicans' watch or under the sway of their policies. Some 671,000 additional jobs were lost as the stimulus and other moves by the administration kicked in, but 630,000 jobs then came back in the following six months. The tally, to date: Mr. Obama can be held accountable for the net loss of 41,000 jobs (671,000 - 630,000), while the Republicans should be held responsible for the net losses of 7,796,000 jobs. [Sonecon.com, 8/10/10, emphasis added]
Based on Shapiro's research, the Washington Post's Ezra Klein created the following chart showing net job losses before and after the Recovery Act was enacted:
[Washington Post, 8/12/10]
The Private Sector Has Added 1.8 Million Jobs Over 13 Consecutive Months Of Job Growth. Minority Leader Pelosi's office prepared a chart based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data for monthly private sector job gains and losses:
CBO: The Recovery Act Created Jobs, Lowered Unemployment, And Boosted GDP. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office:
On that basis, CBO estimates that ARRA's policies had the following effects in the fourth quarter of calendar year 2010:
- They raised real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) by between 1.1 percent and 3.5 percent,
- Lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.7 percentage points and 1.9 percentage points,
- Increased the number of people employed by between 1.3 million and 3.5 million, and
- Increased the number of full-time-equivalent jobs by 1.8 million to 5.0 million compared with what would have occurred otherwise, as shown in Table 1. (Increases in FTE jobs include shifts from part-time to full-time work or overtime and are thus generally larger than increases in the number of employed workers). [CBO, February 2011]
March 2011: Private Sector Added 230,000 Jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy added 230,000 private sector jobs in March. [BLS.gov, accessed 4/4/11]
PolitiFact: "True" That "Most Job Losses" Happened Before Obama Policies Took Effect. According to PolitiFact.com's analysis of President Obama's statement that "most of the jobs that we lost were lost before the economic policies we put in place had any effect": "Looking at BLS data on seasonally adjusted non-farm employment from December 2007, when the recession officially began, to January 2009, the month before the stimulus was enacted (a 25-month period), the jobs number declined by 4.4 million. ... When [Obama] refers to his economic policies, we presume he is referring to his main economic stimulus, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It passed in February 2009, but it took several months before the impact of its spending was felt in the economy. Job loss didn't stop, but Obama is right that it slowed down. In the 19 months from February 2009 through September 2010, the month of the most recent preliminary data, the overall job decline in the private and public sectors was 2.6 million. And the number of jobs lost per month has declined from around 700,000 a month at the beginning of the administration to months in which there were small net gains. ... 'I watched the president on Stewart's show last night, and I thought his basic point about the timing of the employment losses was correct and ought to be noncontroversial,' Gary Burtless, a labor markets expert at the centrist-to-liberal Brookings Institution said in an e-mail." [PolitiFact.com, 10/27/10, emphasis added]
October 2009: Unemployment Rate Peaks At 10.1 Percent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in October 2009 was 10.1 percent — the highest single-month rate since the recession began in late 2007. [BLS.gov, accessed 4/4/11]
March 2011: Unemployment Rate Falls To 8.8 Percent. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the unemployment rate fell from 8.9 percent in February 2011 to 8.8 percent in March 2011, the most recent data available. [BLS.gov, accessed 4/4/11]
On The Day President Obama Took The Oath, Bush-Era Policies Had Created $1.2 Trillion FY 2009 Deficit. As reported by the Washington Times: "The Congressional Budget Office announced a projected fiscal 2009 deficit of $1.2 trillion even if Congress doesn't enact any new programs. [...] About the only person who was silent on the deficit projection was Mr. Bush, who took office facing a surplus but who saw spending balloon and the country notch the highest deficits on record." [Washington Times, 1/8/09, emphasis added]
CBPP: Deficit Grew By $3 TRILLION Because Of Policies Passed From 2001 To 2007. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: "Congressional Budget Office data show that the tax cuts have been the single largest contributor to the reemergence of substantial budget deficits in recent years. Legislation enacted since 2001 added about $3.0 trillion to deficits between 2001 and 2007, with nearly half of this deterioration in the budget due to the tax cuts (about a third was due to increases in security spending, and about a sixth to increases in domestic spending)." [CBPP.org, accessed 1/31/10, parentheses original]
The Bush Tax Cuts Are The Primary Driver Of Federal Budget Deficits Over The Next Decade. Below is a chart from CBPP showing the deficit impacts of war spending, financial recovery spending, the recession itself, and the Bush tax cuts:
"Oil Prices, Already Climbing As The World Economy Grew, Soared When Unrest Hit The Mideast And North Africa." As reported by the Kansas City Star: "Oil prices, already climbing as the world economy grew, soared when unrest hit the Mideast and North Africa. [...] The federal Energy Information Administration said Monday that Libyan oil production was down as much as 90 percent. The country contributes about 2 percent of the world's oil supply and little to the United States. But the agency said that the longer Libyan supplies were disrupted, the more it could affect the United States. Countries scrambling for replacement barrels could make for tighter supplies. The fear of more supply disruptions by itself has been enough to cause oil prices to soar, especially because of worry that the unrest could spread to Saudi Arabia. It has most of the world's surplus oil production capacity and provides the United States with 10 percent of its oil. 'We'll have a risk premium for the next six months to a year because of what's going on in the Mideast,' said James Williams, an analyst for WTRG Economics." [Kansas City Star, 3/7/11, emphasis added]
At End Of 2008, Gas Prices Fell To Their Lowest Point Since February 2004. According to data from the Department of Energy, the average price of gas in the U.S. fell from just over $4.00 per gallon in July 2008 to $1.59 per gallon on December 29, 2008. The national average per-gallon price of gas had not been as low as $1.59 since February 2, 2004, the data show. [EIA.DOE.gov, accessed 3/13/11]
Recession Drove Rapid Decline In Gas Prices. As reported by CNNMoney.com in 2008: "If there's one bright spot in a bad economy, it's that gasoline prices have fallen, and they're expected to drop even further. As the global economy falters, demand for oil has dropped. And since the price of oil makes up about half of the cost of a gallon of gas, analysts see more relief ahead at the pump. ... The national average price for a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline fell 2.4 cents to $3.480 from $3.504, according to a daily survey released Tuesday by AAA. That's down 18% from an all-time high of $4.114 a gallon hit on July 17." [CNNMoney.com, 10/7/08]
Gas Prices Have Risen During Obama's Term, But Only From Recession-Fueled Lows Back To Normal. Two graphs of gas prices over time show that while prices appear to shoot upward if one looks only at 2008-2011 numbers, the longer view confirms that prior to political upheaval in the Middle East, prices had in fact returned to normal after falling dramatically during the recession:
Gas Prices 2008-Present
[EIA.DOE.gov, accessed 3/13/11]
Gas Prices 2000-Present
[Data from EIA.DOE.gov, accessed 3/13/11]
CBO: Health Care Reform Package Would Reduce The Deficit By $138 Billion By 2019. According to the Congressional Budget Office: "The reconciliation proposal includes provisions related to health care and revenues, many of which would amend H.R. 3590. It also includes amendments to the Higher Education Act of 1965, which authorizes most federal programs involving postsecondary education. CBO and JCT estimate that enacting both pieces of legislation - H.R. 3590 and the reconciliation proposal - would produce a net reduction in federal deficits of $138 billion over the 2010-2019 period as result of changes in direct spending and revenue." [CBO, 3/18/10]
CBO: Health Care Reform Repeal Would Increase The Deficit By $230 Billion. In a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), CBO Director Doug Elmendorf writes:
Because CBO and JCT estimated that the March 2010 health care legislation would reduce budget deficits over the 2010-2019 period and in subsequent years, we expect that repealing that legislation would increase budget deficits. The resulting increase in deficits projected for fiscal years 2012 through 2019 is likely to be similar in size to-but not exactly the same as-the reduction in deficits that was originally estimated to result from the enacted legislation.
As a result of changes in direct spending and revenues, CBO expects that enacting H.R. 2 would probably increase federal budget deficits over the 2012-2019 period by a total of roughly $145 billion (on the basis of the original estimate), plus or minus the effects of technical and economic changes that CBO and JCT will include in the forthcoming estimate. Adding two more years (through 2021) brings the projected increase in deficits to something in the vicinity of $230 billion, plus or minus the effects of technical and economic changes. [CBO, 1/6/11, emphasis added]
For a more detailed look at the GOP's erroneous debt analysis of the Affordable Care Act, click HERE.
CBO Report Says Health Care Law Will "Reduce The Amount Of Labor That Workers Choose To Supply." From a CBO report discussing the health care law:
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the legislation, on net, will reduce the amount of labor used in the economy by a small amount - roughly half a percent - primarily by reducing the amount of labor that workers choose to supply.
[CBO, The Budget and Economic Outlook: An Update, August 2010, emphasis added]
AP: Republican Distortion Of CBO Is "A Story Of How Statistics Get Used And Abused." From the Associated Press:
[The GOP] cites the 650,000 lost jobs as Exhibit A, and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office as the source of the original analysis behind that estimate. But the budget office, which referees the costs and consequences of legislation, never produced the number.
What follows is a story of how statistics get used and abused in Washington.
What CBO actually said is that the impact of the health care law on supply and demand for labor would be small. Most of it would come from people who no longer have to work, or can downshift to less demanding employment, because insurance will be available outside the job.
"The legislation, on net, will reduce the amount of labor used in the economy by a small amount -roughly half a percent- primarily by reducing the amount of labor that workers choose to supply," budget office number crunchers said in a report from last year.
That's not how it got translated in the new report from Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other top Republicans.
CBO "has determined that the law will reduce the 'amount of labor used in the economy by roughly half a percent,' an estimate that adds up to roughly 650,000 jobs lost," the GOP version said.
Gone was the caveat that the impact would be small, mainly due to people working less.
[Associated Press, 1/18/11, emphasis added]
PolitiFact Rated Claim That Health Care Reform Kills Jobs "False." From PolitiFact.com's fact check of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's claim that the health care law is "job killing":
Republicans have used the "job-killing" claim hundreds of times -- so often that they used the phrase in the name of the bill. It implies that job losses will be one of the most significant effects of the law. But they have flimsy evidence to back it up.
The phrase suggests a massive decline in employment, but the data doesn't support that. The Republican evidence is extrapolated from a report that was talking about a reduction in the labor supply rather than the loss of jobs, or based on measures that weren't included in the final health care law. We rate the statement False. [PolitiFact.com, 1/19/11]
McClatchy: "Saying That The Law Is A Job Killer Doesn't Necessarily Make It One." According to McClatchy:
Republicans have titled their effort to overturn the law the "Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act," and that's their favorite talking point against it. The House of Representatives will start debate on repeal Tuesday and probably vote Wednesday.
Saying that the law is a job killer doesn't necessarily make it one, however, and independent experts say that such a conclusion is at least premature, if not unfounded.
"The claim has no justification," said Micah Weinberg, a senior research fellow at the centrist New America Foundation's Health Policy Program. [McClatchy, 1/17/11]
FactCheck.org: CBO Report Says Most People's Premiums Would Decrease, Majority Of Others Would Get Subsidies. From FactCheck.org:
What that report actually says is that for the largest segment of the health insurance market, amounting to about 70 percent of those with coverage, "the legislation would yield an average premium per person that is zero to 3 percent lower in 2016 (relative to current law)." That's on page 7 of the report, and it refers to those in the "large group" market - those with policies through employers who have more than 50 workers.
The CBO's analysis isn't much different for the "small group" market, which makes up another 13 percent of the market. For those employees who get coverage through small businesses (those with no more than 50 workers), CBO predicts "an increase of 1 percent to a reduction of 2 percent."
The only big increases that CBO predicts are for those in the "nongroup" market - which makes up about 17 percent of the overall insurance market. These are people who aren't getting coverage through their employers or other large pools. Single individuals buying coverage would see premiums only about $300 higher than they would have been without the law, but those buying family coverage would see an average increase of $2,100 a year. (The cost would go from $13,100 under previous law, to $15,200 under the new legislation - an increase of just over 16 percent.)
But most of those buying insurance on their own would get help paying their premiums, a fact simply ignored by the ad. The CBO report says that about 57 percent of those in the nongroup market would receive federal subsidies, covering nearly two-thirds of the total premium cost, on average.
[FactCheck.org, 8/30/11, emphasis added]
Commonwealth Fund And Center For American Progress: The Affordable Care Act Will Lower Premiums For Families. According to a report from the Commonwealth Fund and the Center for American Progress: "Without reform, premiums are expected to increase from $13,305 in 2010 to $21,458 in 2019. Relative to this increase, premiums under reform increase only three-quarters as much. By 2019, family premiums are nearly $2,000 lower. Adding reductions in out-of-pocket costs and lower taxes for Medicare and Medicaid will result in estimated savings for the typical family of over $2,500 that year." [Commonwealth Fund and the Center for American Progress, "The Impact of Health Reform on Health System Spending," May 2010, emphasis added]
PolitiFact.com: The Health Care Law Helps Hold Down Premium Costs For Most People. From PolitiFact.com:
The vast majority of people will not see significant declines in premiums. When President Obama talks about premiums going down, he usually means they won't go up as much as they would otherwise. For the four out of five people who get their insurance through their employer, the savings would land in the 0 to 3 percent range by 2016, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, or CBO. People who buy insurance on their own, but who don't qualify for government subsidies, could actually see their premiums rise by as much as 10 to 13 percent, but that's largely because they'll be getting beefed-up policies that would pay for more basic services, especially preventive care. Low-income people who qualify for new credits to buy insurance would see the biggest drops. [PolitiFact.com, 3/18/10, emphasis added]
Boston Globe: The Affordable Care Act Cracks Down On Excessive Premium Rate Increases. According to the Boston Globe: "The health care overhaul, which aims to provide coverage for millions of uninsured people, created a five-year, $250 million grant program to help regulators challenge unreasonable rate hikes. HHS officials said Tuesday they will consider several factors to decide what constitutes unreasonable. They will examine whether a rate would produce a medical loss ratio, which measures the percentage of premiums spent on medical care, below 80 percent. They also will question whether assumptions that go into the rates are based on substantial evidence. After 2011, the 10 percent increase threshold that triggers a review will be replaced by percentages that are specific to each state. By 2014, states will be able to exclude insurers that show 'a pattern of excessive or unjustified' rate hikes from health insurance exchanges that will become available to consumers, HHS said." [Boston Globe, 12/21/10]
Affordable Care Act Insures 34 Million New People With 1 Percent Health Care Spending Increase. According to the Washington Post's Ezra Klein:
First, be clear about what's being estimated. The Congressional Budget Office's estimates look at the deficit. CMS is looking at total national health expenditures. This often confuses people into thinking that there's conflict between the two sets of numbers when there isn't: CBO says that federal spending is going to go up to pay for the coverage expansion, but that savings and revenue will go up by even more, leading to a net reduction in the federal deficit. CMS is looking only at the spending side. And here's what it finds: In 2019, implementation of the Affordable Care Act will reduce the ranks of the uninsured by 34 million people and increase nation health expenditures by 1 percent. One percent... So that's the bottom line of the report: We're covering 34 million people and come 2019, spending is expected to be one percentage point -- and falling -- above what it would've been if we'd done nothing. [Washington Post, 4/23/10, emphasis added]
After One-Time Spending Increase In 2014, Costs Grow More Slowly Than They Would Without Reform. According to the Washington Post's Ezra Klein:
[W]e're covering about 10 percent of the country and increasing spending growth by 0.2 percent. Seems like a good deal to me. But it's actually a better deal than that. Here's what the cost curve -- or maybe I should say cost line -- looks like:
What you're seeing here isn't the cost curve bending up. It's a one-time increase in the level of spending. That's the big jump in 2014, the year the exchanges and subsidies come online. So when you compare 2014 to 2013, spending growth seems like it's gone up a bunch. But by 2016, we're back to normal. In fact, we're better than normal [according to a September CMS report]: "For 2015-19, national health spending is now projected to increase 6.7 percent per year, on average -- slightly less than the 6.8 percent average annual growth rate projected in February 2010."
In other words, 2014 is a one-time increase in spending level as we get 30 million new people covered. After 2014, costs grow more slowly than they would without the health-care reform bill. [Washington Post, 9/10/10, emphasis added]
Copyright © 2010 Media Matters Action Network. All rights reserved.