Let’s chat, shall we? Let’s have a serious discussion of how we got in this rough economy, and what our approach should be going forward. And let’s begin with this, a chart compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics documenting job loss or gain since 2008:
As the chart documents, when President Obama took office in late January of 2009, he did so at the peak of a historic collapse in the U.S. job market that had begun a year earlier. In just four months — November and December of 2008 and January and February of 2009 — 3 million Americans lost their jobs, which is more than had been lost in the entire 1981-83 recession. All told, before things could be turned around, 8.7 million Americans were put out of work in the largest economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Here’s another way to look at it, also from BLS:
Now: Here’s the question that ought to dominate the political discussion in the next six months:
What would lead you to believe that returning to the policies that were in effect under President Bush — lower taxes, particularly on the wealthy (the “producers,” if you choose); more defense spending; a loose regulatory rein on Wall Street — will produce a better outcome than it did the first time around?
What evidence — and blind ideological faith is not evidence — can you cite to justify an argument that this time it would be different?
UPDATE: In comments below, Jack mentions the collapse of the construction industry. Because it’s a point of particular concern here in the Atlanta area, I’ll post the following chart. Note that the upsurge in construction related work begins in 2003 and peaks in early 2006.
– Jay Bookman