President Obama and the Republicans continued their war of words over the economy yesterday, as the president clarified remarks he made at a Friday news conference about the private sector being “fine” and Mitt Romney accused him of being out of touch.
Obama said the private sector has created 4.3 million jobs over the past 27 months and more than 800,000 since January, but the economy is primarily being dragged down by the public sector, which has been steadily slashing municipal and state jobs across the country.
“The private sector’s doing fine,” Obama said. “Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government, oftentimes cuts initiated by, you know, governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don’t have the same flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in.”
It is a crucial distinction for Obama to make because it implies that the fault for the poor economy lies with the Republican Congress, which has prevented the president from sending more stimulus money to the states to prevent the kind of cuts we have seen over the past two years. As Mitt Romney goes around the country claiming that he will be a “job creator,” Obama is pointing to numbers demonstrating that he also has been the steward of an economy that has created millions of jobs—while the Republicans at the same time have killed millions of public sector jobs that have resulted in the economy dragging.
Economists like Paul Krugman, a columnist for the New York Times, predicted precisely the scenario we are currently seeing when it became clear that Congress would resist the federal stimulus dollars that he claimed the economy continued to need to get the nation out of its doldrums.