Quiz: Under which president did government employment fall?
a. President Richard M. Nixon
b. President Ronald W. Reagan
c. President George W. Bush
d. President Barack Obama
Judging from the tenor of the public debate, at least here in Oklahoma, I’m guessing few people would select “b” but “d” is the correct answer.
According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, government employment (at the federal, state and local levels combined) has been steadily increased since 1947. During the Eisenhower administration, 1.7 million government workers were added to the payrolls. Another 3.5 million government jobs were added during the Kennedy/Johnson administrations, and 2.8 million government jobs were created during the Nixon/Ford administrations. The government job growth continued with the Carter (1.3 million), Reagan (1.4 million), Bush (1.1 million), Clinton (2.0 million) and Bush (1.7 million) administrations, too.
But during the Obama administration this growth in government employment not only slowed but reversed course. So far during the Obama administration government employment has actually fallen by 730,000 jobs. In short, President Obama — the oft-labeled champion of big government — has presided over the largest decline in government employment since the immediate post-World War II era.
Granted, this is not likely something that the president views as a success from his administration. In fact, with a number of proposals, including most recently with the American Jobs Act, President Obama has sought to increase the number of teachers, firefighters, police officers, and government construction workers. However, recalcitrant Republicans in Congress have thwarted those attempts.
The real question though is “why”? Standard economic theory predicts that in times of high unemployment that government spending can stimulate the economy. In short, spending money on government jobs can help create private-sector jobs too. We even saw this happen with the 2009 stimulus bill, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates created up to 5 million jobs (in the public and private sectors combined) at its peak. Since that time though, government employment has declined significantly and as a result more people are unemployed today. Yes, the economy has grown and jobs are being created. But because government employment is falling the economy isn’t growing as fast as it otherwise would. It is interesting to note that if government employment had grown at the same pace during these first three years of the Obama-recovery as it did during the first three years of the Reagan-recovery, an additional 1.4 million Americans would be employed today.
Congressional Republicans have wanted to shrink the size of government and as a result more people are unemployed today.
The bad news is that Congressional leaders aren’t willing to soften their stance anytime soon. By eschewing any compromise with the White House, Congress has forced an $85 billion cut in federal government spending (which will grow to $109 billion in cuts next fiscal year) putting less money in workers’ pockets.
This decline in spending likely won’t be enough to tip the economy back into another recession, but it will grow more slowly than it otherwise would. Much like we’ve seen over these past three years where congressional contractionary policy has slowed growth, but not erased it, the sequester’s spending cuts will result in slower job growth than we otherwise would have. Unfortunately, this means more people will remain unemployed longer, and more families will suffer more.
As an economist it’s strange to see this fascination with austerity — this desire from so many on the right to shrink the size of government so much that they will sacrifice jobs and prosperity for millions of families. Sadly, this allure of austerity that has seemingly gripped Congress, will continue to lead us down the wrong economic path.
MICKEY HEPNER is the dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Central Oklahoma. Hepner serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for The Oklahoma Academy.
Quiz: Under which president did government employment fall?
HEY HINK: Government advice goes against centuries of examples
Of all the harebrained advice I’ve heard doled out over the years this has to be the dumbest: Sign on the dotted line and “don’t worry about the price tag.” This is precisely the message our federal government is belching out to America’s young people to persuade them to sign up for Obamacare. It reminds me of the Three Stooges episode where Moe tells Curly not to worry about the explosion because “dynamite always blows down.” The image of a grasping federal bureaucracy enticing young Americans to sign onto the most aggressive power grab in this country’s history while murmuring “don’t worry about the price tag,” is almost too far-fetched to believe. Unfortunately, it’s all too true.
Good Samaritans aid motorists during storm
Thursday afternoon, a mixture of sleet and snow fell on Edmond, creating slick and hazardous streets in parts of the city.
An example of legalized corruption
Almost one year ago, Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, asked me to assist him in bringing an end to what appeared to be a practice of legalized corruption. Having worked with Jolley on numerous modernization and efficiency measures, I have learned to pay close attention to his concerns. He frequently proposes cost-saving and efficiency reforms, and his proposals are taken seriously by the Legislature. Jolley had received reports from whistleblowers who exposed extremely disturbing abuses and he wanted to work on legislation to stop the practice.
LETTER: Student urges leaders to not wait on entitlement reform
To the Editor:
I am 28 years old and will only be just older than 40 by the time Medicare and Social Security programs are projected to fail. This is very concerning for young people like myself who are paying into this system and likely will not see any benefits from it. I 100 percent agree that some serious reform is needed to strengthen these programs. I think it is also important for lawmakers to help create laws that protect the privately insured from insurance companies dropping or disqualifying people from coverage. I believe this would help to keep many who can afford private health care from having to rely on Medicare and Social Security funds.
Grandparents of disabled child ‘now have hope’
An Oklahoma scholarship program for special-needs children is once again under attack.
“A motley crew of plaintiffs has filed a lawsuit asking the Oklahoma courts to toss out the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship for students with disabilities,” writes Oklahoma City University law professor Andrew Spiropoulos. “This renewed attempt to sever a lifeline for a small group of disabled students is vindictive because these plaintiffs know that these children suffered horribly in public schools. The program enables these children to escape an environment of bullying, ineffective instruction, and profound neglect and find specialized schools where they can blossom and reveal the beauty of their true nature.”
LETTER: Volunteers make Thanksgiving dinner successful
To the Editor:
How do you thank 711 people for helping you? On Thanksgiving Day my belief in the goodness of man and that Edmond has the most giving citizens was reinforced.
Starting on the Saturday before that day, I met the first ones as they worked diligently to clean equipment in preparation for cooking the Edmond Community Thanksgiving Dinner. More people came to three sites on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to cook and carve.
Employer mandate delayed, but Obamacare destruction goes on
Some 60 percent of Americans — nearly 160 million people — get insurance through their jobs. Thanks to Obamacare, that number is about to nosedive. The president’s signature law is hiking the cost of health insurance for American businesses of all sizes. They’re responding by dumping coverage for workers, spouses and retirees.
Even though the employer mandate, which requires all firms with 50 or more full-time staffers to provide health coverage or pay a fine, has been delayed by one year, the employer health insurance market is slowly bleeding out.
Freedom is more likely to stimulate potential geniuses than gifted programs
If high IQ scores are not reliable indicators of genius, what are? Advocates of gifted children hope schools can be designed to turn intellectual promise into world-changing creativity.
Frederick eyes its future renovation
Terence Malik is an American filmmaker who spent part of his youth in Bartlesville. He is perhaps best known for the critically acclaimed 1978 movie “Days of Heaven” that is set in the Texas Panhandle before the First World War during the harvest season. The late film critic Roger Ebert described “Days of Heaven” as “one of the most beautifully photographed films ever made” and praised Malik for evoking “the loneliness and beauty of the limitless Texas Prairie” Ebert wrote of how the characters in the film appeared to be on a land “to large for its inhabitants” and that they seemed to struggle with the “weight of the land.” And a visitor to Frederick, in Southwestern Oklahoma, where the land has a topography comparable to the Texas prairie, encounters visual images that are similar to the ones contained in Malik’s movie.
OKLAHOMA NOW: Celebrating an inspiring year in Oklahoma
Thanksgiving has come and gone and Christmas is on its way. This is a great time of year to reflect on all of God’s blessings and to be thankful for what we have.
Like many Oklahomans, I am thankful for my faith, my wonderful family, and my friends. I am also thankful for the opportunity to be your governor.
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