After another underwhelming jobs report was released this morning, it hardly came as a surprise when House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) issued a statement trying to exploit the totals for partisan gain. But a closer look at his office's spin reveals a broader problem for the Republican leader.
"Today's report is more evidence President Obama's policies aren't working for families and small businesses, and aren't creating enough jobs to get our economy back on track.... [T}hose looking for work can't find it because ObamaCare, our spending-driven debt, and the threat of tax hikes are making it harder for small businesses to hire. Nearly half of college graduates are unemployed or underemployed in President Obama's economy.
"But rather than address these challenges, President Obama has wasted time trying to distract the American people.... President Obama has shown what doesn't work; now it's time to try something we know will: getting the government out of the way of families and small businesses."
Boehner has routinely struggled to understand the basics of economics and current events, so his press release isn't exactly shocking, but it's worth appreciating how painfully wrong he is.
For one thing, Republicans have argued -- last year and this year -- that GOP measures have improved the economy, and that credit for recent improvements should go to them, not the president. But the logic on display is incoherent: for Boehner and his caucus, when there's discouraging economic news, Obama deserves all the blame. When there's good economic news, Obama deserves none of the credit. Job losses in 2010 were Obama's fault; job gains in early 2011 and 2012 have nothing do to with Obama; and tepid growth in the spring of 2012 are back to being Obama's fault again.
Remember learning the "heads I win, tails you lose" game as a kid? Boehner's argument is a lot like that.
For that matter, the Speaker's larger economic illiteracy is unnerving. He thinks a law that hasn't been fully implemented and tax measures that may not take effect are holding back job growth? Is there any universe in which that makes sense? Of course not.
But perhaps the most important argument of all is the notion that the president has chosen not to "address these challenges." This is wrong in important ways.
Boehner may not remember September -- it was eight whole months ago -- but Obama presented an agenda to a joint session of Congress called the American Jobs Act. It was filled with popular job-creation ideas; it was fully paid for; and independent analysis found it would create over a million U.S. jobs in 2012.
In the Senate, Republicans killed the proposal with filibusters, and in the House, Republicans wouldn't even bring the American Jobs Act to the floor. The GOP alternative? Boehner talked up a few small-bore ideas, but refused to subject them to independent analysis, because he knew what we all knew -- the Republican measures would have created a small fraction of the jobs Obama's plan would have created.
The fight from the fall is relevant because we now know, with the benefit of hindsight, that Obama was right and Boehner was wrong -- again. The job market is still improving at a glacial pace, but if congressional Republicans hadn't deliberately killed a credible and serious jobs plan in September, we'd be vastly better off right now.
Thinking about all the jobs that would have been created this year, but won't because of Republican intransigence, it's enough to make a grown man cry.
Instead of acknowledging that Republicans screwed up yet another opportunity to improve the economy, Boehner prefers to pretend it didn't happen at all -- and he's hoping Americans' memories are too short to tell the difference.