Sen. Marco Rubio (R) of Florida delivered his party’s weekly address on Saturday morning, and made a provocative claim about President Obama.
“The bottom line is this president inherited a country with serious problems,” Rubio said. “He asked the Congress to give him the stimulus and Obamacare to fix it. The Democrats in Congress gave it to him. And not only did it not work, it made everything worse.”
Rubio didn’t specify what “everything” includes, which is a shame for a couple of reasons.
The first is that the senator’s claim is strongly at odds with Mitt Romney’s message. The likely Republican presidential nominee has said, consistently and frequently in recent weeks, that the U.S. economy is improving under President Obama. To be sure, the former governor doesn’t believe Obama deserves credit for these developments, but Romney has nevertheless said, over and over again, that the economy is “getting better.”
This, in turn, makes Rubio’s argument problematic. GOP leaders can argue the economy has gotten better, or they can argue the economy has gotten worse, but they can’t argue both at the same time.
The second problem that undermines Rubio’s claim is reality, which points in the opposite direction.
Here’s a chart, for example, showing private-sector job totals by month since the start of the Great Recession, with red columns showing the months when George W. Bush was president and the blue columns showing the Obama era. The “A” marks where we were when Obama took office, and the “B” marks were we are now.
For Rubio’s argument to make sense, Americans would have to believe that “A,” when the economy was hemorrhaging jobs, is better than “B,” with an economy that’s adding hundreds of thousands of jobs.
Here’s another chart, showing economic growth by quarter since the start of the recession. Again, the “A” marks where we were when Obama took office, and the “B” marks were we are now.
When Rubio argues the president’s agenda “made everything worse,” he apparently wants voters to think “A,” when the economy was shrinking, is preferable to “B,” which points to a growing economy.
Perhaps Rubio wasn’t talking about jobs or the economy? It’s possible, but it’s also unclear what he might have been referring to. The U.S. auto industry was on the verge of collapse, and now it’s starting to thrive. Al Qaeda was growing, and now its leadership has been largely decimated. Even the major stock market indexes have seen considerable improvements in recent years.
Marco Rubio doesn’t have to like the progress, but he should at least try to tell the truth about it.