The recovery is taking off; will Republicans kill it?

This chart from Steve Benen at The Washington Monthly shows the progress made over the last couple of years in restarting the American jobs machine. Red bars show what was happening the last two years of the Bush administration. Blue bars show what’s happened since President Obama took office.

Now no one is going to argue that the recovery has been smooth or roaring – especially when it comes to job-creation. But it’s also indisputably clear that Obama’s policy’s turned around a jobs situation that can only be described as horrifying. And it’s also clear that the stimulus act got a bum rap. The act was signed in March 2009. The impact was nearly immediate. And before anyone says that all the stimulus did was protect government jobs, note that this chart only looks at private sector jobs. Note, too, that including the public sector presents a more mixed picture because of hundreds of thousands of temporary Census jobs last year. Finally, note that the public sector has actually been shedding jobs at a rapid rate – in March, the private sector added 30,000 jobs while the public sector lost 14,000 jobs.

More important, though, is this: We are now looking at 13 straight months of private-sector job creation, with more than 200,000 jobs added per month the last two months straight.

This is indisputably good news and a sign that the recovery, however faltering, is finally gaining traction.

The question is whether Republicans will succeed in smothering that recovery in its cradle. And make no mistake, there are times when that seems like the goal. It doesn’t take an advanced degree in political science to realize that the GOP’s best chance to make Obama a one-term president (don’t forget, that is their “single biggest political goal”) is for the economy to falter. If the economy is doing well next year and the jobless rate continues to fall, Obama is practically guaranteed a second term – especially considering the almost comical state of the Republican presidential field).

I’m not yet quite willing to charge the party with intentionally sabotaging the American economy in order to increase its chances of regaining the White House, but there’s considerable evidence pointing in that direction.

The spending plan Republicans are pushing could prove disastrous to the economic recovery. Yet Republican leaders merely shrug off multiple analyses that their proposed course of action could cost hundreds of thousands of jobs with “So be it.”

In a sane world, national leaders would be talking about ways of nurturing the recovery, providing more oxygen and kindling to the struggling flame. Instead, Republicans want to throw a blanket over it, and the best Democrats can do is argue about the size of the blanket.

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