Meet the Press host David Gregory shocked conservatives on Sunday with his tough talk about the economy with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.
Geithner presumably was expecting that the usually reliable liberal Gregory would give him an opportunity to shed some positive light on last week’s poor unemployment numbers, but instead he was forced to defend them.
Gregory: Here’s a chart of the president’s economic record. This is based on government information, Treasury Department, U.S. Bureau of Labor Stats. Unemployment 7.3% on Inauguration Day, up to 9.2% with the latest report, up 26%. You see the debt figures up 35%.
Geithner: Let me just say that’s a ridiculous table. If you step back and see what’s happened in the American economy. Remember when the president took office we were losing three quarters of a million jobs a month. The economy was declining at an annual rate of 5%. The worst economic storm that we’ve seen since the Great Depression. In fact Greenspan and Bernanke and others have said a greater shock than the Great Depression. Now the president acted, took a lot of political risk and did very unpopular things, but the economy started growing again within six months. We’ve had more than two million jobs created in the private sector since job growth resumed again. America is in a stronger position today but we aren’t growing fast enough.
Gregory then pointed out that Geithner wasn’t disputing the numbers that had just been cited to him. Gregory then read from The New York Times which said that Friday’s unemployment report is evidence that the economy is beginning to stall. He then said that what Geithner was telling the public is that the economy could have been a lot worse.
Geithner denied that but did admit that “the economy has absolutely slowed in the first half of the year” and therefore so will job creation.
So there we have it. The economy would have been worse off if the Obama administration hadn’t taken the actions they did but it wasn’t enough to prevent the economy from slowing down again after the effects of the $787 billion stimulus wore off.
Well at least he didn’t blame Bush for the Obama economy.