The Obama administration is having a difficult time explaining the unemployment rate, which has been above 9 percent for 27 consecutive months and is today 1.3 percentage points higher than it was when Obama took office. The October numbers, due to be released on Friday, are unlikely to look any better. So, his administration goes to great lengths to spin its own unique set of facts.
Just look at Austan Goolsbee’s Friday interview on Sean Hannity’s radio show. Despite having stepped down as Obama’s chief economic adviser in August, Goolsbee continues to do media shows supporting Obama’s economic policies. Goolsbee declared: “I deal only in facts, Sean.” Here is a simple fact check of Mr. Goolsbee’s claims.
Hannity: We heard that unemployment wasn’t going to go above 8 percent.
Goolsbee: When they made that 8 percent prediction, that was the same prediction being made by everyone. But you forget the other half of the thing, which is if you did nothing, the rate would go to 8.9 percent, and it was already above that before the first part of the stimulus even went out.
Mr. Goolsbee is just plain wrong. When the Obama administration got into office, they made optimistic promises about their stimulus program, claiming that during 2009, unemployment would stop rising and then fall. The unemployment rate in January was 7.8 percent. In late February, the administration claimed that it would average just 8.1 percent for the year if the Stimulus was enacted.
The White House’s predictions were consistently much more optimistic than most economic forecasters surveyed by the Wall Street Journal. On Jan. 10, 2009, Obama’s team predicted unemployment would drop to 7.8 percent in December 2009. The Wall Street Journal’s survey of economic forecasters at that same time had December’s unemployment rate at 8.6 percent. At the very end of February 2009, after the stimulus was passed, the Obama released a new forecast saying that unemployment would average 8.1 percent for all of 2009. The next forecast by private forecasters for the Journal, about a week later, predicted unemployment in June at 8.7 percent and for December at 9.3 percent.
But Mr. Goolsbee’s second claim, that unemployment had already been above 8.9 percent “before the first part of the stimulus even went out,” is even more outrageous. Obviously, he is trying to make it look like President Obama simply inherited a worsening economic mess, a mess that threw off his experts’ predictions before the stimulus even had a chance to work. Again, that is just plain wrong. For February, unemployment stood at 8.2 percent; in March it was at 8.6 percent. And in March, President Obama was already claiming that the stimulus had a noticeable impact:
We’re beginning to see signs of progress. . . . This [stimulus] plan’s already saved the jobs of teachers and police officers. It’s creating construction jobs to rebuild roads and bridges. And yesterday, I met with a man whose company is reopening a factory outside of Pittsburgh that’s rehiring workers to build some of the most energy-efficient windows in the world. . . . We’ve already seen a jump in refinancing of some mortgages, as homeowners take advantage of lower rates.