President Obama's final jobs report as president showed a stronger-than-expected 227,000 jobs created. Naturally, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tried to give all the credit to Donald Trump, even though the data was taken from before Trump was inaugurated.
January's jobs report showed 227,000 jobs created, considerably more than the 180,000 that were expected.
At the daily briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer led off the press conference by trying to spin the report as a victory lap for Donald Trump:
— Tommy Christopher (@tommyxtopher) February 3, 2017
Let's turn to the jobs report. The economy added more than 227,000 new jobs, significantly more than the 175,000 that had been expected. Today's report reflects the consumer confidence that the Trump presidency has inspired. According to a recent Gallup poll, economic confidence is at a new high, and ADP showed strong private-sector hiring. President Trump campaigned on how to make America work again. Even before he took office, the markets knew he would deliver on that promise.
As others have pointed out, Trump does not deserve even a sliver of credit for those jobs, since the Bureau of Labor Statistics conducted its survey for January between the 9th and the 13th, a full week before Trump was inaugurated.
Trump White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway chimed in with her own alternative facts:
— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) February 3, 2017
Trump's actual record on jobs has been to reward companies who ship jobs to Mexico, punish companies he does not like for one reason or another, and to take credit for jobs he had nothing to do with creating. He will have plenty of time to show the country if he can improve on President Obama's record-setting performance, but he will have to wait until at least next month.
Spicer also tried to spin Trump's historically low 40 percent approval rating:
REPORTER: Sean, you referenced polls a couple of times from the podium, but a poll came out today, CBS says the president has a 40 percent approval rating. We've seen the approval rating drop during the transition period. He talked about polls a great deal during the campaign. A: What do you think that says about the way the American people are looking at these actions he's taking? And B: What do you think it says about his pledge to unite the country on the eve of his election?
SPICER: I think there's also a Rasmussen poll that showed he had a 51 percent approval rating. You had an Ipsos-Reuters poll the other day that showed, and again, I don't have it handy, but a majority of people approve — [inaudible interruption] — hold on, I understand that. And I think that as the president's policies continue to get enacted, you know, for all the hysteria regarding his efforts to protect the country on those seven countries where we didn't have the proper vetting in place to ensure that the American people were safe, what we did have was a very high response to the American people in support of that. His policies continue to do it. The president understands this is marathon, not a sprint. As he continues to get people back to work, protect this country, I think the poll numbers will act in accordance.
Rasmussen is, of course, a chronic outlier that leans Republican, and their sample is of "likely voters," not of all adult Americans. But even given those caveats, the 51 percent alternative approval rating that Spicer wants to brag about is still the lowest in history for a newly-inaugurated president, and by a wide margin.
If we were talking about any other president, there might be a temptation to think that there is nowhere to go but up. But Trump is not any other president — to the country's detriment — and if past is prologue, improvements are far from guaranteed.