On Fox News: Friday’s jobs report was terrible news, barely worth mentioning. “So the headline is unemployment rate ticks up to 5.7″ percent,” Steve Doocy said, as he quickly wrapped up the segment.
In reality: “This might just be the most perfect payrolls report ever,” according to economist Justin Wolfers. On Twitter, he raved about the strong growth of 257,000 jobs, helpful revisions — which saw November’s gains rise to 423,000 and Decembers pick up to 329,000 — and “useful real wage growth.”
We can say now with certainty that 2014 — with 3.2 million new jobs — was the best year of employment creation this century. Thanks to low gas prices — which are largely out of our control — we’re enjoying the best economy since 1997. And this all happened after two years of tax increases on the rich and expansion of health insurance to at least 10 million.
It’s great news — unless you’re a Republican.
That isn’t to say that everything is awesome. Labor force participation is still too low and we haven’t seen any significant reverse in the trend of workers’ wages stagnating, a trend that began in 1974. These are problems that we had during the George W. Bush administration. They were just ignored by Republicans and everyone else because there were so many other problems.
So things are only awesome compared to the the first 14 years of this century.
We’ve seen near-historic lows in layoffs and more job openings at any time since before George W. Bush took office. And all this couldn’t have come at a worse time — for them, policy-wise.
After six years of cheering against a recovery, it seemed that Republicans would actually try to claim credit for the economy. Mitch McConnell previously noted that growth really took off right as Republicans took control of the Senate — and we laughed.
But on Friday, Republicans decided that they best keep complaining. They said that recovery isn’t widespread enough and use their obligatory responses to demand tax reform and new trade deals. (The irony of this is that tax reform and trade deals helped create the wealth gap that dominates our age and leaves workers struggling to get ahead.)
Taking credit for this economy is increasingly messy for Republicans — and not just because they spent years telling us that Obama and his pet monster Obamacare would destroy it.
Their biggest problem is that it looks like the Affordable Care Act is playing a big role in our recovery.
The private sector hasn’t lost jobs since the law was signed into effect in March of 2010.
The health care sector had the best month of job creation ever in November.
Health care reform also seems to be giving workers new security, Dan Diamond explains in Forbes: “Harvard’s David Cutler, for instance, has argued that the Affordable Care Act ‘reduces or eliminates many distortions’ in the labor market, including the pressure of being forced to stay in a bad job simply because you need its benefits, like health insurance.”
With job creation suddenly “on fleek,” Republicans realize that they have to say they’re worried about income inequality or what Jeb Bush calls “the Opportunity Gap” but all they have policies that would make it worse.
Republicans can’t even convince themselves to stop calling for more tax breaks for the rich.
There are serious ideas that could tackle this man-made wealth gap: Reforming how executives are compensated, asking workers to participate in corporate governance, eliminating open-market stock buybacks, making child care universal, free college tuition, a tax on risky high-frequency stock trades, child allowances, and ending tax breaks on the richest.
Republicans support a total of none of them.
Instead, the GOP wants to get rid of the one thing we’ve done to seriously take on inequality — Obamacare.
You could say that Republicans are “grasping for ammo.”
Being wrong about everything has never held them back before. Even after Iraq, the Bush tax cuts Katrina, the financial crisis and only contributing sabotage to the recovery, they now hold more seats in the House of Representative and state legislatures in more than a half century.
But even Fox News knows Republicans can’t take credit for economy defined by taxing the rich to expanding health care for millions. All they can do is hope it slows down again — fast.