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Senator Paul embarrasses himself on TV, then makes it worse

U.S. Senator Rand Paul is trying to advance the Republican myth that government has grown under President Obama. But with public sector employment at the lowest level in over thirty year, it’s not working.

On ABC’s This Week on Sunday, Paul asked Nobel-prize winning economist Paul Krugman, "Are you arguing that there are fewer government employees under Obama than they were under Bush?"

Krugman responded: "If government employment had grown as fast under Obama as it did under Bush, we would have a million-and-a-half more people employed right now, directly." Watch the video:

Indeed, if Bush government employment rates had remained steady, about 1.7 million more Americans would currently be employed.  Here's the chart:

In fact, there are around 600,000 fewer government (federal, state and local) employees under President Obama than there were under President George W. Bush.   Here's the chart:

But those facts don't help Senator Paul, so on Monday, he tried to make his point by excluding state and local government workers during a radio interview on Stand Up with Pete Dominick:

"Federal employment has gone up 140,000-- it's just a fact.  He's talking about federal and state employment, so he's playing games with numbers. State government-- President Obama is not in charge of the government of Virginia or the government of New York, so teachers have been reduced at the state level. Federal employees and the federal government is enormously bigger under Obama. And he's disingenuous-- for an allegedly smart man-- he's disingenuous playing games and he oughta be ashamed of himself."

But it's Paul who is playing games with numbers and should be ashamed of himself.

First of all, the143,000 number Paul quoted excludes federal postal workers.  ThinkProgress reports that if you include federal postal workers, federal employment only went up by only 27,000 since December of 2008 (hardly "enormously bigger").

And secondly, state and local budgets are deeply intertwined with federal spending.  To exclude those numbers from the analysis is, well, disingenuous!

But Senator Paul has one thing right: Obama shouldn't take credit for state and local layoffs, which includes hundreds of thousands of school teachers.  

As Ed said last night, "Republicans led by people like Rand Paul should be blamed for not passing the American Jobs Act, which would have extended much-needed aid to state and local governments and stimulated the economy."