Texas Gov. Rick Perry now claims to be “America’s jobs governor.” And if America continues to post the pathetic employment numbers we’ve seen in recent months, expect to hear him say it a lot — and even longer if he wins the Republican nomination for president.
So far, Democrats have not developed a very effective counterargument. Given the condition of the economy, it’s understandable. On Sunday, when asked to refute Perry’s claims of successful job creation in Texas, Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz offered this rebuttal:
“It’s extremely difficult for him to deserve credit for that job creation when you have rising gas prices that created oil jobs that he had nothing to do with; when you have military spending as a result of two wars that created military jobs that he had nothing to do with; when you have the Recovery Act championed by President [Barack] Obama that created jobs in Texas that he had nothing to do with, so it is way overblown to suggest that job creation in Texas is squarely on the shoulders of his policies.”
It is true that politicians in both parties claim far too much credit for job creation. Employment usually ebbs and surges due to business cycles and other nonpolitical factors — things that office-holders can only affect at the margins (and often for the worse).
But the problem with Wasserman Schultz’s argument is that, all talk of secession aside, Texas is part of America. And an important part: Texas accounts for 262,000 of the 524,000 net jobs created in America between June 2009 and June 2011. So whatever objections you have to Perry’s record reflect on Obama as well.
If half the new jobs in America were created in Texas because of the stimulus, then Obama needs to explain why the stimulus has endowed half of its benefit on just 8 percent of the nation’s population. If Texas’ success is merely the result of high oil prices (energy jobs do account for a quarter of Texas job growth), then Obama needs to explain why half the jobs he has created in the last two years came about because of high oil prices.
And if Texas’ unique success comes primarily from its lower taxes and low cost of living, then that probably says a lot more about the failure of a nationwide government-centric jobs strategy than it says about Perry’s record one way or another.
After $800 billion in stimulus spending that left unemployment still high and job creation still slow. Obama’s Gallup approval rating has sagged to 39 percent. Democrats need to mount a defense of his economic record, and they just don’t have anything very convincing at the moment.
Their arguments so far consist mostly of excuses (Obama himself has lately taken to blaming “bad luck”). Beyond that, it’s a choice between unlikely claims — as when Wasserman Schultz said that things have already gotten better — and unpromising proposals, like another trillion-dollar stimulus package or a new federal “Department of Jobs.”
If this is the best the White House can do, then its team of speech writers should stop drawing attention to Perry with their criticism, and instead spend their time praying for better luck.
Columnist David Freddoso is The Washington Examiner online opinion editor.