In an attempt to justify lots more federal taxes and spending to "save or create" hundreds of thousands of government jobs, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., recently made one of the most bizarre claims to come out of Washington in quite some time.
"It is very clear," he said, "that private-sector jobs have been doing fine."
Overall U.S. unemployment is 9.1 percent, and in Reid's home state of Nevada, it's an alarmingly high 13.9 percent. That's the worst in the nation. In fact, Nevada has had the highest unemployment rate of any state for a shocking 16 consecutive months!
Surely Reid does not believe that private-sector workers are "doing fine." And surely he does not think government employees make up a disproportionately large share of the unemployed, whether in his state or in other parts of the country.
Indeed, The Heritage Foundation debunks the Senate majority leader's argument.
"Senator Reid is not just mistaken; he has his facts exactly backwards," writes James Sherk of The Heritage Foundation. "If the recession has barely touched one sector of the economy, it is government. Since the recession began in December 2007 the private sector shed 6.3 million net jobs, while government payrolls are down by just 392,000.
"That amounts to a 5.4 percent drop in private sector employment, while government employment has slipped only one-third as much (1.8 percent). Education-related government jobs have fallen even less, down 1.4 percent."
Job security at the federal government level specifically is even higher. In addition, the Washington, D.C., area, which is full of federal government jobs, has higher income than any other metropolitan region in the United States. Median household income in Washington is about $85,000 per year, compared with the nationwide average of $50,000.
Does this really sound like a time when Congress should be raising taxes to "create or save" more government jobs?