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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Republicans Call Obama Policies "Job Killers" Because the Media Might Ask for Evidence If They Called Them "Baby Killers"

Republicans Call Obama Policies "Job Killers" Because the Media Might Ask for Evidence If They Called Them "Baby Killers"

Saturday, 15 January 2011 08:45

The key to being an effective politician is making the most damning charge possible about your opponent that the media will view as credible. The Republicans have been very effective in this respect because they routinely refer to President Obama's health care bill as "job killing" and use similar language to refer to other measures that he has pushed.

Serious reporters would ask the Republicans for evidence that the bill has actually killed any jobs. If the charge was true then the Republicans should be able to point to a sharp upturn in average hours worked per worker, as firms worked their existing employees harder rather than risk the cost of taking on a new worker. The Republicans would also be calling attention to the huge surge in temporary employment, as firms looked to temp firms for their workers rather than put workers on their own payroll. And, Republicans would note that the firms most affected, those employing near 50 workers (bigger firms almost all already provide health care and smaller firms are largely unaffected) are lagging other firms in employment.

Of course the Republicans do not provide this evidence because it does not exist. Average hours per worker is up somewhat from its low-point in the downturn, but it is still far below its pre-recession level. Employment of temps is also up slightly from the trough of the downturn, but it is still more than 20 percent below the pre-recession level. And it would be very difficult to find any evidence in the data on employment by firm size that mid-size firms are any more reluctant to hire than the larger or smaller firms that are less affected by the health care bill.

In principle, reporters have the time to investigate allegations like the claim that the health care bill is costing jobs. Readers on the other hand do not. If the Republicans can make an untrue assertion and simply have it passed along as a credible statement, because reporters do not do their jobs, then we should expect them to make even stronger statements. Perhaps we will soon be reading accusations from Republicans that President Obama and the Democrats are baby killers. After all, given the current practice of the national media, they would likely just pass the charge along as a reasonable statement about events in the world.

Comments (3)Add Comment
written by fuller schmidt, January 15, 2011 9:48
Facts have an empathetic bias.
written by David Sheegog, January 15, 2011 9:59
Its not just on this subject that Republicans get a free pass from an uninquiring press. I watched Texas Gov Perry make a statement on Nightly News Thursday in which he said "The well established fact that raising taxes kills jobs and hurts the economy makes our job to cut state spending even more imperative." Of course, no such "fact" exists, but it has become what my granddaddy used to call an "Irish fact" by virtue of it being something that Republicans think ought to be true, and repeating it so often that most of them believe it is true.
Pre-Existing Health Conditions: The Real Job-Killers
written by izzatzo, January 15, 2011 1:45
Average hours per worker is up somewhat from its low-point in the downturn, but it is still far below its pre-recession level.

Any economist knows that average working hours are down because of job-killing Nanny State health care reform - not a recession.

The problem is pre-existing health conditions acquired among those who have been led to believe they are unemployed and then self fulfillingly became unemployable.

They will cause a hysterical run on jobs should they be offered and drive up health care costs dramatically - exactly why they're not being offered jobs in the first place. No one wants to hire people made sick by job-killing regulations, although the demand is actually there for healthy employees.

The reason employers are not working existing employees more hours per week to compensate for fewer new employees, is to send them a signal as well not to acquire pre-existing conditions, lest they get fired for exploiting more access to health care.

Once employees are worked overtime, they get snotty for feeling needed, and start strutting around like risk-free CEOs and Teabagger Governors with full benefit packages that include pre-existing, current-existing and post-existing conditions that threaten the structural integrity of the company and must be dismissed immediately.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.