Did you know the government can't create jobs? Nearly two years ago on CNN, former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele said, "Not in the history of mankind has the government ever created jobs." And then, "Trust me."
When Steele said those words, he was widely panned. It was dismissed on the right as a gaffe and debunked on the left as grossly inaccurate.
It was laughable...when Steele said it.
Cut to: Meet the Press last Sunday. CNBC's Squawk on the Street host Erin Burnett said, "Government can't create jobs." It was left unchallenged by any of the other panelists and host David Gregory.
Karen Hughes, who worked in the Bush administration (her government j-o-b) added, "Well...the president seems to have had a revelation that it's actually business that creates jobs."
Then to top it all off the Democratic Congressman James Clyburn - agreed. "No, we can't create jobs, and we shouldn't. We want them created in the private sector. "
Over 16.5 percent of Americans are employed by the government, about 22 million of the 135 million payroll jobs. And they're not just pencil-pushing, useless cushy benefit collectors - but scientists. There are no private sector astronauts. None. Firefighters are government employees, as are police. "More cops on the streets" means more government trained and compensated people in your community. The district attorneys, judges and bailiffs draw an Uncle Sam signed paycheck. The government? Law and order.
The second largest employer in the country is the United States Postal Service. Try telling the lady raising her family by delivering your overdue notices that the government can't create jobs.
According to the Department of Labor, the private sector has been steadily adding jobs and the public sector has been cutting jobs at the fastest rate in 30 years. Especially local government jobs: teachers, sanitation workers and librarians.
So the government does, in fact, create jobs. It also slashes them. Cities and states have been balancing their budgets by cutting back on everything. Most infamously Camden, N.J. is eliminating half of their police force.
To those who work for a living, a job is a job. To those who sloganeer for a living, cutting jobs means magically creating them.
It seems government workers are the new illegal immigrants. They are the new group who are treated like parasites on the system; their jobs are illegitimate and disposable. Lawmakers gleefully talk about eliminating government employees' livelihoods. The rhetoric would have us believe those aren't even jobs.
It's not the banksters and hucksters on Wall Street who wrecked our economy. No, now they're the only ones who can save us! It's not a general revenue slowdown tied to a collapse after the Saturnalia of liar loans and real estate cheats. It's those comfortable public servants who are bleeding us dry!
We're told we're bankrupt because of well-paid government employees with "Cadillac health insurance plans." Yes, we still refer to posh things as an American-made car from a company, GM, which the U.S. government saved and made profitable again.
So everyone who makes an actual Cadillac can thank the government for their job.
Out of our $3.5 trillion annual budget we dole out around $1.5 trillions on "defense" spending. It really should be considered "offense" spending these days, but I digress. There are some accounting tricks with mandatory and discretionary spending. But added up: it's $1.5 trillion.
What is the military? Jobs. Careers too. Plus a retirement plan and socialized medicine. It's a jobs program the government created. It's also a big wasteful unaccountable sieve for tax dollars. If the GOP-controlled House is really looking to weed out pork (which they arguably are not) they would check out the bacon haven we call the Pentagon.
But, better to stick with the empty and symbolic than tackle the difficult.
Tina Dupuy is a columnist and fill-in host at The Young Turks. She can be reached at email@example.com.