There is certainly a political debate to be waged over whether or not government spending can effectively create jobs. But in his interview on This Week with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, Michael Steele seemed to suggest, as he did back in January, that government jobs are not, in fact, really jobs.
Rather, Steele said, government jobs are "just work." (Is work not a job?) The newly-minted RNC Chairman added that when it comes to the private sector, job loss is never permanent.
"They come back though George," said Steele. "That's the point. They've gone away before and they come back."
Stephanopolous did his best to sift through the logic, pointing out that millions of private sector jobs have been lost in just this past year.
Earlier in the interview, Steele acknowledged that the government can create "work" in the short-term. But the notion that this type of spending could spur economic growth -- whether in advancing environmentally friendly industries or through the filter down of more infrastructure -- was dismissed out of hand by Steele.
"These road projects we're talking about have an end point," he said. "As a small business owner, I'm looking to grow my business, expand my business. I want to reach further. I want to be international. I want to be national. It's a whole different perspective on how you create a job, versus how you create work...
"I guess I don't really understand the distinction," said Stephanopolous.
"Well, the distinction is this," replied Steele. "If you got a government contract that's a fixed period of time it goes away. The work may go away. There's no guarantee that there's going to be more work when you're done with that job."
The whole thing is worth a watch if only to get a better sense of where the nexus of the anti-stimulus argument lies. It is as much a critique of any federal spending as it is critique of "wasteful" spending.
STEELE: You've got to look at what's going to create sustainable jobs. What this administration is talking about is making work. It is creating work.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But that's a job.
STEELE: No, it's not a job. A job is something that -- that a business owner creates. It's going to be long term. What he's creating...
STEPHANOPOULOS: So a job doesn't count if it's a government job?
STEELE: Hold on. No, let me -- let me -- let me finish. That is a contract. It ends at a certain point, George. You know that. These road projects that we're talking about have an end point.
As a small-business owner, I'm looking to grow my business, expand my business. I want to reach further. I want to be international. I want to be national. It's a whole different perspective on how you create a job versus how you create work. And I'm -- either way, the bottom line is...
STEPHANOPOULOS: I guess I don't really understand that distinction.
STEELE: Well, the difference -- the distinction is this. If a government -- if you've got a government contract that is a fixed period of time, it goes away. The work may go away. That's -- there's no guarantee that that -- that there's going to be more work when you're done in that job.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, but we've seen millions and millions of jobs going away in the private sector just in the last year.
STEELE: But they come -- yes, they -- and they come back, though, George. That's the point. When they go -- they've gone away before, and they come back.