Dem. gov.: Public sector job losses are dragging economy

(CBS News) The political debate over the economy and the role of the private and public sectors continued Sunday on "Face the Nation." Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley said public sector job loss "puts a drag on the economy."

O'Malley came to the president's defense after Mr. Obama said Friday that the private sector is "doing fine." He latter clarified his remarks saying that it is "absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine," saying that compared to the public sector - which continues to lose jobs - the private sector is increasing jobs.

O'Malley expanded on the president's clarification, telling host Bob Schieffer, "No one can deny that we've had 27 months in a row of private sector job growth. Fact of the matter is, that the public sector continues to be a drag on the economy, because in 16 of the last 18 months we've had public sector job losses."

He added: "It's as if we take two or three steps forward and one or two steps back. For every three jobs created by the private sector we eliminate a public sector job - teachers, firefighters, police - and that puts a drag on the economy.

"I think that most economists would agree with the president that the private sector is doing better and the public sector is doing worse," O'Malley said.

O'Malley was joined on "Face the Nation" by AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka, who said there is "a stark difference" between the economic policies of President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

"Mitt Romney says he wants fewer teachers; that means larger classrooms. He says he wants fewer firefighters; that means less safety. ... He wants fewer police officers; that means we're in danger," Trumka said, referring to remarks Romney made on Friday criticizing the president for wanting to hire more teachers, firemen and police officers as a sign of "big government."

O'Malley said that in order for the president to win reelection, he has to "keep the issue focused on jobs and job creation.

"Last year more jobs were created in the private sector of our country's economy than in all eight years of President Bush, and that was true in 2010," O'Malley said. "So I think that President Obama absolutely needs to take away the false assertions of Mitt Romney that he created jobs either in the private sector or in Massachusetts."

Schieffer asked Trumka about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's win in his recall election last Tuesday. Trumka downplayed the loss, and credited Walker's win with his fundraising advantage.

"It's true that the people in Wisconsin didn't recall Governor Walker, but he spent over $50 million on this," Trumka said. "He has lost control of the State Senate, so his agenda is stopped dead in its tracks. He has the worst job creating record of all the states that are out there right now, and people are looking at that."

"Having said all that, he won," Schieffer said.

"What did he win? He got the right to serve the rest of his term," Trumka said. What he hasn't done is create jobs. ...

"He didn't do what he was supposed to do, that's try to create jobs. We wish he had the best job creating record in the country, we wish he could get there."

Trumka also said that Walker's advantage came down to money raised, and called the "money edge" provided by special interests as "really dangerous to democracy.

"People have said to me that, 'Look, you'll always be outspent, so how can you ever win?' Listen to what that says about democracy" Trumka said.

  • Leigh Ann Caldwell On Twitter»

    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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