But, But, But!

Secretary Geithner can be persuasive, as he was, speaking to Bob Schieffer yesterday. In the end, however, a wary eye is best, caution when coming face to face with a ‘but’, in all of its rhetorical manifestations.

The Secretary, effectively, argues for a ‘broad consideration’ of the indicators and he refers to segments of the economy, okay, fair is fair. There is, however, a ‘but’ here. ‘But’ ….. exclusive of jobs; except for weak job growth, things are looking up. He was asked for his prediction of the unemployment rate on Election Day, he declined. We’re looking rosy, except for the ‘buts’. Why so coy? You could have simply said ‘improved’, that’s not too high a bar; or is it? The unasked and unanswered question Bob simply is; “how far can the economy improve on weak jobs growth?”

Mr. Geithner defends the administration’s economic record, pointing to 4,000,000 private sector jobs and contends, reasonably, that they began from a very bad economic place, also true. The argument is not about the place it began, the argument is surrounded by the fact that this is the slowest recovery since the Great Depression. That fact is, it has to be, a result of policy.

Mr. Geithner’s pride in 4,000,000 jobs is a average of, 105,363.2 jobs created per month since the beginning of the administration. Assume an unrealistic improvement of 20% immediately. That’s 125,315.8 jobs per month. The Brookings Institution has ‘recalculated’ their estimate of 125,000 jobs per month to maintain equilibrium, to 208,000 jobs per month. At that level it will take till 2020 to “close the jobs gap”, compared to pre-recession levels. From where we are with the averages we need the current average rate of job growth must double to get us to the Brooking’s numbers by 2020. There is also the math required to move averages. To get from 100,000 average jobs per month to 200,000 jobs per month requires an actual job growth of 300,000 per month for 37 months. No one is predicting that!

The jobs comments are either an exercise in diminished expectations or the Secretary knows it’s not going to be good and has no intention of being saddled as the horse that carries the news as he announced his intention to be a one term appointee. He also cannot admit to failed policy.

To the south the President maintained his contentions regarding tax policy, adding a new twist. His tax policy for people earning over a million dollars is “the only path to economic growth”, says the President. Of course economic history renders his policy not only hollow but false; ah, what the heck? Why let pesky facts get in the way of a good old fashion class war!