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Trail Mix 05.17.12 

Does the president have any control over job growth?

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It’s About Jobs, Isn’t It?

It’s not clear that presidents create jobs (in fact, there’s lots of evidence that they don’t), but they get blamed when America loses them or re-elected when we add them. Here are some Bureau of Labor statistics to consider: Barack Obama has presided over essentially a wash on jobs; America lost about 4.2 million jobs in his first recession-plagued year, and in the 26 months since then, there have been 4.2 million jobs added. Over his eight years, George W. Bush wound up with a net gain of 1.1 million jobs. Neither has come close to the record Bill Clinton put up, of 22.7 million jobs created.

Is one party better than the other at “creating” jobs? Since FDR (and not including Obama), the 40 years Democrats held the White House saw the creation of 73.22 million jobs; the 36 years Republicans were in charge, 34.78 million jobs opened up.

Along for the Ride

Republicans have been focused on retaking the U.S. Senate since 2010, when they gained six seats. But since Tea Party efforts ousted Republican Richard Lugar in Indiana last week, the GOP is on defense there. Add to that the retirement of Olympia Snowe in Maine and tightening races in North Dakota, Massachusetts, Missouri and Montana, and pundits are now calling it 50-50 on whether the Senate will flip in 2012.

In Montana, a state Obama lost in 2008, one-term Democrat Sen. Jon Tester faces Republican Congressman Denny Rehberg. Despite the candidates’ initial cooperation on clean campaigns, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle predicts “months of inaccurate, character-assassinating, smear ads designed to appeal to voters’ baser instincts.”

Tester challenged Rehberg to sign a pledge calling for a cease-fire on outside money. Rehberg sent his own pledge for Tester to endorse. Neither signed, and Rehberg concluded that, “ultimately, we’re along for the ride.”

Last month, Crossroads GPS — Karl Rove’s super PAC — bought airtime in Montana as part of a $1.2 million ad buy in five key states.

The People’s Pledge

A pledge can work, as Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Scott Brown have proven (so far) in Massachusetts. Both candidates there signed the “People’s Pledge.”

“Under the pact,” NPR reported this month, “a candidate who benefits from a third-party ad has to pay a penalty to a charity chosen by the other. … When the first ad violating the pact aired in March by a group supporting Brown … when it came time to pay his fine, Brown wrote a check for double the agreed-upon amount.”

The Brown-Warren race is tight; it remains to be seen how the pledge will hold up if one candidate falls behind.

— TED S. McGREGOR JR., @INLANDERTMX

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