Hardball with Chris Matthews, 3/7/13, 7:00 PM ET

An improving economy still gives GOP reasons to blame Obama

The economy is improving, but why isn’t Obama getting any of the credit? The Grio’s Joy Reid and Time’s Michael Crowley discuss.

Job numbers show a stronger economy–but where’s Obama’s credit?

Updated

Great news, everybody! Friday’s jobs report revealed that the unemployment rate hit a 4-year low of 7.7%, and that businesses added 236,000 jobs in February, handily beating economists’ expectations.

Way to go, Government! What do you have to say about the good news, Speaker Boehner?

“Any job creation is positive news…”


Yeah it is!

“…But the fact is unemployment in America is still way above the levels the Obama White House projected when the trillion-dollar stimulus spending bill was enacted, and the federal government’s ongoing spending binge has resulted in a debt that exceeds the size of our entire economy.”


It can be a bit confusing to figure out exactly what’s going on with the economy, especially if you’re listening to every politician’s reaction. True, unemployment remains painfully high, and the Congressional Budget Office does project a soaring budget deficit of $845 billion this year. But in terms of job growth, it’s a little hard to deny the improvement.

Take a look at this chart.

The blue represents the months President Obama has been in office. Since March of 2010, the private sector has added jobs every month. And the biggest loss of jobs–the ones in red–actually happened when George W. Bush was president.

So why do Republicans like Speaker Boehner feel the need to constantly downplay these economic achievements?

Two reasons, said The Grio’s Joy Reid on Hardball Friday. One is the “incentive structure within the Republican party,” which is now “so weighted on the side of constantly being against Barack Obama.” Republicans have yet to digest “that maybe it would be good politics for them to start saying the economy’s getting better,” she added, since they’re the ones who stand to lose in the next election, not Obama. The other reason, she noted, is that Republicans came to the painful decision to raise taxes in January, and “they don’t want to admit that in a slightly higher tax environment, jobs are being created.”

Not only are Republican attacks on the economy off base, said Chris Matthews, but Republican prescriptions to cut spending are also misguided. “Austerity, where’s that working in the world?” said the Hardball host Friday. “It’s not generally the rule that that’s working right now.”

“Europe provides a very strong counterexample,” agreed Time magazine’s Michael Crowley, referring to the record high unemployment and recession caused by European nations’ austerity cuts. Crowley also noted that Republicans’ behavior today is reminiscent of the criticism President Clinton received when he raised taxes in 1993–only to see falling interest rates, increased investment, and a roaring economic boom follow. “You kind of can’t win in this partisan situation,” he said. “Republicans are just too committed to the idea that the economy really can’t be good under Barack Obama’s stewardship. It would be too hard to explain.”

For Reid, Republican positions on the economy may already be too hard to explain. “No one has ever explained to me how cutting government spending in and of itself creates jobs,” she concluded. “No one’s ever been able to do it because they don’t have a relationship.”

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Job numbers show a stronger economy--but where's Obama's credit?

Updated