David Plouffe, the architect of President Obama's 2008 campaign, has drawn a lot of criticism for saying he doesn't believe the national unemployment rate will prevent the president from being re-elected.
From the outside, that may seem like a nonsensical notion to entertain, but polling does support his claim in that a majority of voters do feel that the president hasn't done enough to rectify the situation, but they also don't blame him for it.
One possible explanation for this is the fact that one of the largest causes of joblessness right now is austerity at the state and local level. Austerity in politically-important battleground states, to be specific. States where Republican-controlled legislatures and governors have imposed deep spending-cuts while also finding time during their busy job-killing schedules to do things like ban abortions, mandate drug-testing for welfare recipients, and piss on unions.
A new report in the New York Times shows that, over the last two-years, state and local austerity has accounted for roughly one million net job-losses either in the form of lay-offs, or a reduction in the rate of hiring while the population continues to grow.
Federal payrolls have been roughly flat for years (even as the population has been growing). But state and local payrolls grew over the last decade, by almost 20,000 jobs a month on average.
Since the crisis began and state and local taxes began plummeting, though, governments began to cut back. At first, the federal government stepped in, with the 2009 stimulus bill, and sent fiscal aid to states. Then the aid stopped.
In round numbers, state and local governments have cut about a half million jobs over the last two years. If they had continued to hire at their previous pace — expanding as the population expanded — they would have added about a half million jobs.
In other words, the state and local austerity of the last two years has cost the economy about one million jobs.
Here it is in graph form:
For many Americas, especially ones living in key battleground states currently being ruled by the likes of Scott Walker, Rick Scott, Rick Snyder, and John Kasich, this is the reality of our current economic downturn. And these Republican governors just may be one of the Democrat's saving graces in 2012.
Of course there are things congress could do to help lower unemployment between now and 2012, but let's face it, they won't.
In hindsight, we are fortunate that the senate and the presidency are still controlled by Democrats. Because if they weren't, the reckless and feckless austerity measures being imposed at the state level would certainly come to fruition at the national level.
Now faced with the reality of such austerity at the hands of their Republican overlords, it seems unlikely battleground-state voter's opinions on who to blame will change between now and the next election. And they don't blame President Obama.