Kennedy Touts Lame U.S. Job Growth; Klobuchar Should Have Noticed
Yesterday's Meet The Press debate between Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mark Kennedy (R-MN) was, to be kind, tepid.
Klobuchar can sit on a large lead with three weeks to go until Election Day. Kennedy has underperformed throughout the campaign, and yesterday his low-key speaking style did little to inspire.
But even though Klobuchar is nursing her lead, she should have remembered that the issues being discussed on a national news program can effect other races around the country. To that end, she should have, at the least, played fact-checker to Kennedy's spin.
Consider this argument from Kennedy:
HOST TIM RUSSERT: But, but specifically, what about rolling back the tax cut on those who make more than $200,000?
KENNEDY: We have had six million new jobs. The economy was flat on its back after 9/11. We passed tax relief to reward, and people — to let them keep more of their hard-earned money. Families, small business, those that take risk and create jobs. Six million new jobs have been created. We cannot be raising taxes, putting this economy back on its back, and also not growing jobs.
To be fair, Klobuchar wasn't given a chance to directly respond to Kennedy's comments. Russert had a back-and-forth with Kennedy, before going back to Klobuchar with a question on rolling back the Bush Administration's tax cuts for the wealtiest Americans.
But certainly, Klobuchar could have began her answer by challenging a) that 6 million new jobs is a solid performance; or b) the false logic that rolling back the tax cuts would reverse job growth.
Let's take this point by point:
We know, not from some liberal economist, but from Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, that the economy has only produced 140,000 jobs/month during the strongest period of the Bush-era economy. Economists suggest that a growing economy needs to create 150,000 jobs/month just to match population growth.
By comparison, job growth during the eight years of the Clinton presidency was 236,000/month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
So, "6 million new jobs," while a pleasing sounding number, is really not all that impressive. Furthermore, one could ask what kinds of jobs are being created. Are they jobs that can support middle-class families, or are they primarily lower-wage jobs? Are they jobs with health care and other benefits?
Chao touted a 6% jump over five years in "overall compensation." What does that mean? First off, it means that compensation is growing at a pace of 1.2% per year. With inflation at about 3% per year, that's not "growth." That's "not keeping up with inflation." Furthermore, current compensation "growth" -- putrid as it is -- does not keep up with the compensation growth of the past seven economic growth periods.
We know that the Clinton-era job growth didn't come on the back of a humongous tax cut for the wealthy. Given the tepid job growth during the Bush era, the better plan may very well be to roll back the tax cuts -- combined with closing tax loopholes and better fiscal responsbility with regard to spending. When Clinton left office, the deficit was under control; under Bush, it isn't.
The key is that Democrats aren't saying, "tax and spend." Nor are they proposing a continuation of the Republican "spend and spend some more" philosophy. What Democrats are saying is, "let's bring some sanity back to our economy, because the enormous tax cuts for the wealthy passed during the Bush era have not, as promised, helped this economy."