Saturday, January 7, 2012

The awful truth - government employment has declined more under President Obama than under Reagan

Fact Free!
While Romney and his fellow Government-Job-seekers in the GOP primaries sling crackpot rhetoric about President Obama overseeing some huge growth in the public sector, the facts show an (unfortunate) shrinking of employment in government over the past three years. Floyd Norris at The New York Times has it:
When Barack Obama ran for president four years ago, he appalled some Democrats by saying Ronald Reagan had been a transformational president.

Three years into his presidency, he has exceeded Reagan in one area: reductions in government jobs.
Over all — including a decline of 12,000 public sector jobs in the Labor Department report for December — government employment is down 2.6 percent over the last three years, compared to a decline of 2.2 percent in the early Reagan years. That is a record.

That record, which will seem a dubious distinction to public-sector employees, is largely a result not of federal policy but of shrinking state governments. State employment fell 1.2 percent in 2011 — the largest percentage for any year since counting began in 1955. The number is down 2.2 percent over the last three years. It was up 1.2 percent during Reagan’s first three years, declining in only one of the years...

The declines in government jobs in both the Reagan and Obama presidencies coincided with major recessions, of course, which reduced tax receipts for all levels of government. If Mr. Obama had had his way, state and local government job losses in 2011 could have been reduced with more federal assistance, but such proposals were blocked by Republicans in Congress.

There is no reason to think Mr. Obama is as happy about the reduction in government workers as some Republicans. But like it or not, the Obama administration has turned out to be anything but a big-government one...


  1. And I'm pretty certain Reagan raised taxes more often than Obama has (or would even if re-elected). Which I guess says something about the ideological context each stepped into. Obama stepped into a world that's still essentially Reagan's. Just hope he gets a chance to 'transform' that world. The possibility looked hopeless till recently. Thankfully, Obama lost some confidence in his ability to bridge all divides.

  2. I think he was rudely handed his confidence back in that place "where the moon don't shine" by a brutal opposition. He went way too far in that direction IMHO, but appears to have come back as something of a fighter. Nothing to concentrate the mind like an election in nine+ months.