Sunday, March 25, 2007

Lying about jobs…again

Much has been written about the cynicism of Rod Blagojevich. In short, the Illinois governor has built his political career out of saying one thing and doing the opposite. The news media catches him sometimes, but they've largely given up.

Blagojevich ran on two themes in 2002 when he was elected governor: ethics and jobs. On ethics, he already has incurred nine separate state and federal corruption investigations and voices like Joe Birkett and Gary MacDougal predict he'll be indicted during his term. Steve Rhodes is predicting an indictment this year.

On jobs, he's been a disaster, too. Since he's been governor, Illinois has ranked 44th in the nation in percentage of job growth. The state's job base has increased 2.1 percent under Blagojevich. The national average is 5.2 percent. Here is how surrounding states have performed during the last four years:

National average…5.2 percent
Iowa…4.9 percent
Kentucky…3.8 percent
Missouri…3.6 percent
Wisconsin…2.9 percent
Indiana…2.2 percent
Illinois…2.1 percent
On Sunday night, top Blagojevich aide John Filan repeated one of the administration's old deceptions—that Illinois has a good job record because the raw number of jobs created is high. I don't have a transcript, but he made the comments on Tom Roeser's "Political Shootout" show on WLS 890 AM. The administration always uses the raw number argument to claim credit for its jobs record.

Comparing the number of raw jobs created compared to neighboring states would be like George W. Bush bragging that the U.S. created more jobs than France, England and Germany. Nobody would let Bush get away with this cheap tactic—of course the U.S. is going to create more new jobs because its economy is much larger than those other countries.

Illinois has the fifth most workers in the U.S. among the states. It has double the number of employees as Indiana, the largest of the surrounding states, and more than four times the number of employees as Iowa and Kentucky, the smallest surrounding states.

Any middle schooler with an ounce of math aptitude would understand why using percentages is the correct way to compare performance. That same middle schooler also understands the temptation to hide bad grades from their parents. Or in this case, a governor hiding bad performance from the electorate.

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