At least 600,000 government workers have lost their jobs since the recession began, but Republicans nevertheless keep scapegoating public employees who have shouldered more than their fair share of economic pain. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, became the latest lawmaker to join in this trend during an appearance today on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, where he said that government shouldn’t try to save teachers’ jobs because that would be like another stimulus package:
ISSA: Whether or not the federal government borrows money from overseas sources to keep teachers in XYZ state on the payroll seems to be stimulus II. It seems to be something that the states have to decide what the right number of teachers are, and fund that, and not have us borrow money from overseas to keep $30 billion worth of money to try to aid the states. We did that once. It’s time for us to say states have to step up to the plate. That’s a good example where I don’t think that belongs in this stimulus bill. I don’t think we should be maintaining government workers with borrowed money.
Issa is also wrong to suggest that the first stimulus package was unsuccessful. At its height, Recovery Act funds were supporting up to 3.6 million jobs. In June of this year, Recovery Act funding was still supporting up to 2.9 million jobs.
According to David Leonhardt, if state and local governments had continued to hire at their previous pace, they would have added half a million jobs to the economy. In other words, government austerity over the past two years “has cost the economy about one million jobs.”