I continue to argue that presidents get too much blame for a bad economy and too much credit for a good one, especially in the short term. A $14 trillion economy moves in its own cycles, at its own pace, particularly when it’s so intricately connected to a global economy with its own cycles and pace.
But of course, that’s not how most people see it. If the economy falters, government is supposed to rush in and fix it for us. Even conservatives, who generally like to claim that government has no business meddling in the economy, are still quick to blame government when the economy falters or when it doesn’t recover fast enough. (Or at least, they do when a Democrat is in the White House.)
So for those who insist on pressing that argument, take a look at the chart below, compiled by Steve Benen at Washington Monthly. It charts monthly job losses or gains in private enterprise from January 2008 through September 2010. The red months cover the Bush presidency; the blue months cover the reign of the Kenyan usurper.
And what do you know? Monthly job losses peaked in January 2009, Bush’s last month in office. They then began an immediate decline — the much-maligned stimulus was signed into law in February, by the way — and have been in positive territory the last few months.
Conceivably, you could argue that the chart means nothing, that Obama’s inauguration simply coincided with the bottom of the trough. I think that’s largely accurate, although most economists agree that the stimulus did have an effect.
Even if you don’t accept that argument, however, you’ll have a hard time looking at that chart and arguing that Obama’s policies have made things worse, or that with his inauguration, American business simply lost confidence in the future and started laying people off.
Not that some won’t try …