Dem’s Job Creation Talking Point Reveals PolitiFact’s Double Standards

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Professional fact-checkers love to add context to their articles to argue why the claim made by whoever they are checking is more complicated than the claimant is suggesting. This can also be evidence of double standards.

On March 14, PolitiFact gave GOP Wisconsin GOP Senate hopeful Eric Hovde a “half-true” rating for a factually correct statement about Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s spending record. It justified itself by claiming the issue of the national debt is more nuanced, but on Thursday it gave Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg a “mostly-true” rating for stating that 96 percent of jobs have been created under Democratic presidents since 1989, despite also providing several caveats that portrayed the issue as more complicated.

Louis Jacobson writes that “a 2014 paper by Princeton University economists Alan Blinder and Mark Watson found a performance gap between the parties that was “startlingly large” over a wide variety of economic metrics.”

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Jacobson further cites Binder, who was on Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, but Jacobson didn’t mention that, as saying, “The U.S. economy not only grows faster, according to real (gross domestic product) and other measures, during Democratic versus Republican presidencies, it also produces more jobs, lowers the unemployment rate, generates higher corporate profits and investment, and turns in higher stock market returns,’ Blinder and [Mark] Watson wrote. ‘Indeed, it outperforms under almost all standard macroeconomic metrics.’”

Jacobson then provides several reasons why Rosenberg could be accused of spinning, “Attributing job creation to policies or presidents isn’t as clear as it might seem. The Republican Congress of 1995 to 2001 might deserve a share of the credit for the job growth under Clinton.”

Democrats also supported the lockdowns that caused so many job losses under President Donald Trump, as Jacobson notes “In crises especially, the parties have historically worked together. When faced with the 2008 financial crisis and the coronavirus pandemic, George W. Bush and Trump ‘chose the policy responses that Democrats favored,’ said Dan Mitchell, a libertarian economist.”

Jacobson also accuses Rosenberg of cherry-picking, “If you go back to the first president to serve a full tenure during the modern age of employment statistics — Republican Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s — the economy has added 107.7 million jobs. Of those, 70% emerged under Democratic presidents and 30% under Republican presidents. That’s not as dramatic an edge as the 96% to 97% over the past 35 years, but it’s still a better than 2-1 margin for Democrats.”

Even then, Jacobson claims Democratic presidents benefited from things that have nothing to do with their economic presidents. Specifically, he cites Harry Truman benefiting from World War II demobilization and Lyndon Johnson benefiting from the baby boomers entering the job market. Meanwhile, Trump was hurt by the aforementioned COVID shutdowns and Biden has benefited from them ending.

Additionally, George W. Bush had to deal with the 2008 financial crisis. Jacobson writes, ‘“Particularly the pandemic and the financial crisis were global in nature, and you can’t pin their roots on the president or even the U.S. as a whole,’ said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the center-right American Action Forum. ‘The numbers are what they are, but the implication that somehow the Democrats deserve full credit is a bit too facile.’” 

Holtz-Eakin and Mitchell get ideological labels, but Blinder does not. Just like a Democrat missing all sorts of context still gets a “mostly-true,” but a Republican only gets a “half-true.”

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