The Republicans are, understandably, jumping all over this. While Democratic-leaning writers, like Dave Weigel, are defending the President, saying that in context the President's comments are true and not particularly clumsy:
This is what Obama said.Brian Beutler posts a graph showing, I believe, that the government sector is continuing to cut jobs (which is disturbing), while the private sector is continuing to create jobs on a steady path upwards (on the current path it will take another 2 years and then some before we have the same number of jobs in the private sector that we had before the economy collapsed).
We've created 4.3 million jobs over the past 27 months. Over 800,000 just this year alone. The private sector is doing fine. Where we're seeing problems is with state and local government, often with cuts initiated by governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help they're accustomed to from the federal government.This isn't even particularly clumsy phrasing.
Is that proof private sector job growth is doing fine? (As someone who works in the private sector, things don't feel particularly "fine.") I've asked a few economist friends their opinion and will report back.
I will say one thing, about which I am an expert: PR. I'm sorry to disagree with Dave, but the phrasing was terribly clumsy politically. It's not clear how anyone in the White House could write that line, let alone permit the President to say it publicly, when it should have been clear that the line would provoke immediate puzzlement from the public at large, derision from the Republicans, and glee in the media.
UPDATE: The President clarifies via Jake Tapper that the economy is not doing fine.
With Republicans seizing upon remarks he made earlier in the day that “the private sector is doing fine” – arguing that they show a president out of touch with an ailing economy — President Obama sought to clarify his remarks Friday afternoon.
“It’s absolutely clear the economy is not doing fine,” the president said while sitting alongside Philippines President Benigno Aquino in the Oval Office. “That’s the reason I had a press conference. That’s why I spent yesterday, the day before yesterday, this past week, this past month and this past year talking about how we can make the economy stronger. The economy is not doing fine. There are too many people out of work. The housing market is still weak, too many homes underwater and that’s precisely why I asked Congress to start taking some steps that can make a difference.”