Time To Crush The GOP Talking Point Myth Of ‘Obama’s Part-Time Economy’ Once And For All


Chris Christie decided he would push a familiar GOP talking point when speaking in New Hampshire on May 12th. Christie played the “Obama’s part-time economy” card from the republican playbook, which is a card that has been played many, many times by GOP officials, candidates and pundits.  You can now cue your mental Daily Show montage of right wingers and GOP pundits making the same claims over and over.

The story they like to tell goes something like this: Obama came into office and his recovery plan caused a massive shift from full time to part time work. For extra measure, some of them will throw the “Obamacare” scare in there, too, as a cause. With Christie, he tried to take a “fact based” approach, citing stats and figures from the past to “prove” it is really all Obama’s fault. This goes further than the old ‘anecdote based” arguments that were being made during the 2010 – 2014 campaigns.

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This is what he argued in New Hampshire:

First, this weak recovery has pushed full-time workers into part-time work. Now it’s true that overall employment is higher today than it was at its pre-recession peak in 2007. But if you just take a look under the covers, you see something a lot more troubling. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of full-time — full-time employees — is still 3.2 million below the peak in the third quarter of 2007. The number of part-time workers is higher than it was in that same quarter by over 4 million. So look at what’s happened, what this president has done to our economy. We’ve had a huge shift from full-time work to part-time work.

What Christie did here was pretty clever. His argument seems sound, but it isn’t. What Christie is doing here, according to FactCheck.org, is “compare apples and oranges” and “cherry pick” statistics to make a “fruit salad” of falsehoods that are the equivalent of a “logical lemon.”

Here are some of the highlights (summarized) of how they tear down what Christie said:

  • Christie blames the recovery, using cherry picked stats from 2007 and selected dates thereafter. The fact is that the big “shift” happened before Obama or his policies could shift anything. The huge shift took place from 2007-2008, peaked in 2010, and has been declining slowly but surely ever since.
  • In saying that the workforce is 3.2 million shy of where it was, Christie uses stats, but he cherry picks the wrong ones. Christie uses the raw quarter to quarter data instead of the data economists and people who study this stuff really use — The seasonally adjusted and updated monthly numbers.  Those numbers show the full time work force more accurately at about  5 million jobs higher in April than when Obama took office.
  • Just for good measure, the Jersey hustler pulls another fast one. He throws the January 2009 numbers onto Obama’s column instead of Bush to get to his logical lemon. It’s pretty obvious why that is just plain deceptive.
  • Christie used the same manipulations when he said, “The number of part-time workers is higher than it was in that same quarter by over 4 million.” Actually, the number of part-time workers in April was just 1.4 million more than it was when Obama first took office. And as we’ve mentioned, the ratio of part-time workers to all workers is almost exactly what it was in January 2009.

Fact check points out some things that the governor conveniently neglected to mention. To summarize:

  • Most part time workers are part time because they want to be, not because they have to be.
  • The actual “surge” of part time work was 2007-2008.
  • Since 2010, when many of Obama’s policies actually started to take hold, the numbers are declining.
  • As of April, the number working part-time because of the economy was nearly 2.7 million less than at the peak, and nearly 1.5 million less than when Obama first entered the White House. That’s a shift away from involuntary part-time work, not toward it.

Keep in mind, what Christie is doing here is nothing new. The “part time” cries and blame have been flying from the right wing since around 2010 when that peak occurred, and have heightened since the ACA has come into full effect, usually via anecdotes. What the GOP is doing here, via Christie is test drive their “fact based” argument. The one that will “put those silly liberals in their place.”

But the entire argument is bogus. There is no “huge shift” of workers going from full time to part time. Nor is there any increase at all. In fact, the numbers are steadily declining.  Furthermore, the Obama administration has absolutely nothing to do with the 2007-2008 surge that did happen under George W. Bush. The ONLY way the republicans can make this argument is to totally manipulate numbers or use invalid ones.

As you can see, the right wing faithfully is playing the “a lie becomes true if you repeat it often enough” game and not only will they play it, but continue to refine it for the 2016 campaign with stat based talking points instead of anecdotes. It won’t matter if it’s Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul or any other candidate come the 2016 general election, EXPECT this line of “lemon logic” to be used over and over unless we just smash it now by putting up the real facts behind the Obama economy, an economy that has brought America back from the brink of depression in 2009 when he took office to an economy that has at least normalized in a stretch of time that is literally half of what the GOP nominee, Mitt Romney promised during the 2012 campaign.  An economy that recovered despite every republican attempt to squash it as they have put party over country for the past six years.

People of good faith can debate different economic ideologies and policies. But what Christie is doing in his water carrying exercise here is not a good faith debate. The  erroneous “facts” serve no one but the wealthy 1 percent crowd that benefits from the “trickle down” economic policies their political lackeys are essentially paid to push. They want you to “believe the hype.”

Now you have the complete story. Don’t believe the GOP hype.

I’ll leave you with a visual of the situation for your convenience. Here’s a chart backing up the actual part time workers trends:

 

In other words, as per usual, the GOP is full of it on this one.

Featured Image via Factcheck.org

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