Robert Shrum appeared on CBS’ Face the Nation yesterday with former Pennsylvania governor and fellow Democrat Ed Rendell, but the long-time political consultant disagreed on strategy in the upcoming election. The man who helped run eight Democratic campaigns for president, all unsuccessful, insisted that Barack Obama could not win in November if forced to defend his record. Shrum seemed a little unclear on that record anyway:
“If you let his just be a referendum, I don’t think the president can win because the truth of the matter is he may have created over 4.3 million jobs, he may have saved General Motors, but the country is still not back to where it needs to be,” Shrum said on the CBS’s Face the Nation. “This needs to be a choice election…And if [voters] have that choice I think the president is going to be just fine.”
Shrum made the comments in response to the poor job numbers that were released on Friday and the Obama administration’s attempts to contrast the White House’s efforts to restart the economy to Mitt Romney’s record on jobs as governor of Massachusetts and at a private equity firm Bain Capital.
Appearing on the same program, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, however, said it was “laughable” to claim the election is not a referendum on Obama’s record. “Are you kidding, of course that’s how you run elections,” she said. She added, “Really, it is his record that will win the election” for Romney.
The Obama campaign has obviously come to the same conclusion as Shrum. That’s why they spent the last month obsessing over Mitt Romney’s record at Bain, and now want to obsess over his record in Massachusetts, which at least has more relevance. They aren’t talking about jobs or the economy, or even anything at all more recent than 2006, unless it’s their endless hagiographies about how swell it was to run in 2008.
But even Shrum can’t get the record straight. The number of jobs created in Obama’s first term so far is 172,000, counting from February 2009’s overall non-farm jobs number at the BLS (table B-1 from the Current Employment Survey). For the private sector, it’s 780,000 in the same period. If we count from the first month of recovery — which would have been June 2009, four months after signing the $800 billion stimulus bill, the numbers are 2.506 million overall and 3.107 million in the private sector, neither of which is anywhere close to 4.3 million.
Nor are they anything to brag about; on a monthly basis, that averages 86,305 jobs per month in the private sector over the past 36 months after recovery, and just 69,611 in overall non-farm jobs — coincidentally, the same level of job growth as Friday’s disastrous jobs report showed. Both averages fall well below the 125,000 per month we need just to keep up with population growth. Even Shrum’s mythical figure of 4.3 million would have only been an average of 119,000 a month over 36 months of recovery, a basic water-treading pace at the bottom of the trough.
Shrum does get one thing right: if Obama has to run on the real record of economic policy in his term of office, he can’t possibly win.