During an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union With Candy Crowley,” Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod found himself nearly incapable of answering one, simple question: is the private sector “doing fine”?
The question, of course, is a reference to remarks made by President Obama during a news conference on Friday.
“The private sector is doing fine,” said President Obama.
“Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government oftentimes cuts initiated by governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the Federal government and who don’t have the same kind of flexibility as the government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in,” he added.
While some are saying the president’s remarks are proof that he is “out of touch,” others are simply asking “is the private sector doing fine”?
“Let’s start out with a really simple ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Do you agree with the president that the private sector is doing fine?” CNN’s Crowley asked.
Axelrod responded with everything but a committed answer:
I agree with the president who called the press conference on Friday to say that we need to take a series of very urgent steps to accelerate job creation in this country because we have storm clouds rolling in from Europe.
So, Candy, the press conference was called to press for hiring, a tax credit for small businesses, to press for clearing red tape away so that families who have underwater homes can refinance on today’s low interest rates and save thousands of dollars a year, and yes to push to give state and local governments help to rehire some of the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of teachers, firefighters, and police who have been laid off in this, uh, last couple of years.
And we’ve created 4.3 million private sector jobs in the last 27 months but we’ve lost almost half a million public sector jobs and half of those are teachers.
Impressive, but not an answer.
“So, bottom line, is the private sector doing fine?” Crowley asked a second time.
“The private sector, uh, we need to accelerate job creation in the private sector,” Axelrod responded.
“Right,” said an apprehensive Crowley.
“One of the ways that we can do that,” Axelrod continued, “is putting teachers and firefighters and police back to work because those are good middle class jobs.”
“That’s the public sector,” Crowley said, pointing out the obvious.
“But that’ll help accelerate the recovery,” Axelrod argued.
The private, uh, the small business tax cut will help the private sector. The refinancing will help the private sector because people will have more money in their pockets to spend. There are series of steps that we can take right now that will help undergird the economy against the, uh, forces that are arrayed. You see what’s going on in Europe in particular.
The first quarter of this year was the best in terms of private sector job creation; was the best in six years. We’ve had a slowdown in the last three months largely because of global events, but the president has said is that we need to take some urgent action and he’s called on Congress to do that. They’ve sat on their hands thus far. They’re more eager to have a debate over an out-of-context clause in his remarks than the substance of what he said.
“But I think that we put in the context at the open, you put it in context in the open, I just want to know whether the administration, whether you believe that the private sector is doing fine,” Crowley asked for the third time.
“It’s certainly doing better than the public sector,” he finally kinda-sorta answered.
This story has been updated.