So I'm torn on Annie Lowrey's reaction to the administration's repeated stance that it can't literally conjure jobs out of this air. Her response: yes we can!
Of course, the government is far and away the biggest employer in the United States -- staffing the military, the postal service, fire stations, schools, museums, the regulatory agencies, the FBI, the National Institutes of Health, parks and numerous other institutions.This is basically right. But given that the administration has turned away from large scale public hiring, Geithner's quote is defensible. We've been stuck at 9 to 10 percent unemployment for a long time. If Obama went around saying he could create jobs, the reasonable response would be: Well why aren't you? Are you busy? Are you heartless? Are you inept? Are you waiting for a more convenient time? Honesty is the better policy, even when it requires powerful government officials to utter the hardest two words in politics: I can't.
Moreover, it is strange to hear the lead economic voice in the Obama administration make a classic small-government argument, particularly as the Obama administration touts its "recovery summer" jobs programs.
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