Pelosi: Unemployment would be 15 percent were it not for us

She cites no study, provides no evidence, but baldly makes the claim: If President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats had not passed the $825 billion stimulus bill in February of 2009, unemployment today would be 15 percent.

“I think it’s really important to know that President Obama was a job creator from day one,” [Nancy] Pelosi said at her Thursday briefing. ”Now, was the ditch that we were in so deep that when you’re talking to people and they still don’t have a job, that that’s any consolation to them?  No.

“But I’ll tell you this,” said Pelosi, “if President Obama and the House congressional Democrats had not acted, we would be at 15 percent unemployment. Again, no consolation to those without a job, but an important point to make.”

Here’s an equally important point to make, Ms. Pelosi: The official unemployment rate might stand at 9.0 percent — but that doesn’t mean actual unemployment isn’t even greater than that. In fact, factor in underemployment and marginal attachment and the figure is 16.2 percent.

Beyond that, a CBO report belies Pelosi’s generous assessment of the effects of the stimulus.

A report published by the Congressional Budget Office in August estimated that in the fourth quarter of 2011, the stimulus signed by President Obama in 2009 would have the impact of reducing the national unemployment rate between 0.3 points to 1.1 points from what it otherwise would have been.

If Pelosi thinks (9.0 + 0.3 = 15) or (9.0 + 1.1 = 15), she must have as much trouble with math as Obama does. According to that report, the best Pelosi could claim is that, without the stimulus, unemployment might have been somewhere in the range of 9.3 percent or 10.1 percent.

Today’s jobless numbers are “not good news” for the Obama administration, no matter how he and his supporters exaggerate his impact. The unemployment rate might not be a surefire predictor for the success or failure of a reelection effort, but high unemployment doesn’t exactly make voters happy with the administration. Furthermore, unemployment acts as a drag on the economy — and economic growth as measured by GDP is a reasonable predictor of reelection. Twelve months of stagnation won’t serve Obama (or really any incumbent) well. And as Ed has pointed out repeatedly this morning, the number of jobs added barely keeps pace with population growth — and makes no dent in the backlog of the 14 million unemployed.

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