Steve Benen debunks Sen. McConnell

The Washington Monthly‘s lead blogger, Steve Benen, did a good job Friday of pointing out the serious errors in a statement by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Minority Leader.

I won’t quote everything McConnell said or Benen’s entire critique, but in brief, McConnell claimed that when Obama took office the Democrats “got everything they wanted” and that this “made a bad situation worse.” As Benen points out, both those assertions are demonstrably ridiculous.

Republican filibusters (and since the start of the year, their control of the House) have delayed, limited, or completely blocked a large percentage of Obama’s initiatives, even most of the ones that polls show are widely supported by Republican voters as well as Americans in general. Democrats have managed to get nowhere near what they wanted.

Despite this, things are in fact better on a number of fronts. The economy has been growing again, and the jobs picture (see the chart in Benen’s post) started getting rapidly better soon after Obama’s policies began taking effect. This year’s private-sector jobs growth rate, and the combined public-private jobs growth rate, are the best in five years. Only the government sector continues to suffer job losses, but of course many Republicans think that’s great.

Finally, we should remember that the economic disaster Obama had to face when he took office, the worst since the Great Depression, was the direct result of Republican policies to deregulate financial markets.

Of course, we’re far from fully recovered from that mess, and Obama can be blamed — and has been blamed — for repeatedly offering proposals tailored to Republican tastes in a vain effort to be bipartisan, and his willingness to settle for too small a jobs program and too weak a set of financial regulations.

Given that Republican policies got us into this mess to start with, that Republicans are currently blocking almost every effort to make things better, and that some Republicans have made clear their wish for the economy to stay bad long enough to help them win in 2012, McConnell’s attempt to blame everything on Democrats is nuts. Of course, he probably knows better, and if you asked him privately he’d justify it as just politics.

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