April 4, 2010

I guess it's asking too much of Fox Business Channel to let us know that their guest and former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao also happens to be married to the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as she repeats his talking points for him on the current jobs market. As Think Progress noted, she did at least get some push-back from Stuart Varney but at no time during the interview is she asked if her opinion might be biased because of who she is married to.

Although given her background and after being as Jim Hightower put it, the (anti-) Labor Secretary, she'd likely be in lock-step with him even if they weren't married. As a former Bushie who's administration ran the economy off of the cliff and as the current Minority Leader's wife, she's certainly no impartial observer of what's going on now.

Fox Business’ Stuart Varney Shoots Down Former Bush Labor Secretary Elaine Chao’s Negative Jobs Report Spin:

As ThinkProgress noted earlier today, conservatives have sought to rain on Obama’s parade, falsely claiming that the numbers are a “disappointment” because they were “mostly” due to hiring Census workers. On Fox Business today, former Bush labor secretary Elaine Chao attempted to spin the numbers negatively. But host Stuart Varney, who has been cynical about the administration’s economic policies, wouldn’t buy her spin, telling her that “this is not a blip up on a one month basis, there is a trend”. Read on...

As Steve Benen noted it seems his first-Friday-of-every-month jobs chart got the attention of Rachel Maddow. As Think Progress pointed out in their post, it appears to have gotten the attention of Speaker Pelosi as well.


Contrary to Chao's talking points, this does look like a step in the right direction to me as well and more than just a one month "uptick" even though as all of us know, things are still not great on the jobs front. I wonder what this trend would have looked like if the stimulus plan wasn't watered down with Republican tax cuts that Paul Krugman warned against back in January of '09?

I see the following scenario: a weak stimulus plan, perhaps even weaker than what we’re talking about now, is crafted to win those extra GOP votes. The plan limits the rise in unemployment, but things are still pretty bad, with the rate peaking at something like 9 percent and coming down only slowly. And then Mitch McConnell says “See, government spending doesn’t work.”

Let’s hope I’ve got this wrong.

Sadly it looks like he got it right although given the Republicans capacity to lie no matter what the facts are even if the administration had listened to Krugman and the numbers were better, they'd still be saying the stimulus didn't work. Transcript below the fold.

VARNEY: I’m sure you’ve heard what I’ve just been saying, that we have indeed reached a turn, this is my judgment, a turn from job destruction towards very limited job creation. Would you agree with that?

CHAO: Unfortunately, I don’t. I think this is still a very mixed report and this is only one month. So, we need to see a trend, not just, you know, an uptick perhaps in one month. The unemployment rate stayed steady even though there were jobs created primarily because the labor participation rate is still very low. And…

VARNEY: You know, Ms. Chao, I’ve got to interupt for just a second, I’m sorry, I hate to interrupt.

CHAO: Sure.

VARNEY: But look, we did create jobs in November of last year. And we’ve just had a revision in the January and February numbers for this year, showing a net job gain in those months and we’ve also gained jobs in March. This is not a blip up on a one month basis, there is a trend. Four of the last five months we have seen job creation. Now, I know it’s very slow and it’s not enough. We got that.

CHAO: Yes.

VARNEY: But it is an uptrend. It is a job creation trend.

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