Obama's comment "the private sector is doing fine" has been analyzed and criticized and excused and otherwise been made much of by both sides, and rightly so. In my opinion, it all boils down to this: The public sector (local and state governments) are not doing fine because they're getting less revenue than in the past (on average) and that is because the private sector is NOT doing fine! Fewer people are paying taxes at all, fewer people are paying more taxes than previous years, fewer people are spending as much and paying as much in sales taxes. Even property taxes have probably come down overall because of the burst of the housing markets.
The big exemption to these public sector losses in revenue is North Dakota. They voted on eliminating the property tax because the oil boom has brought so much money into state coffers that they have far more than they need. Sales tax revenue jumped 83% just because people have more money to spend! I'd easily be spending more in my own liberal state if I weren't paying my liberal state probably $500 more in taxes of various kinds each month than I would in a more conservative state. I'd happily move away from here and we're planning to do so in due course. North Dakotans should have recognized the opportunity they have to set the example for the nation on how to achieve economic prosperity! But they didn't, and voted to keep their property tax. Ridiculous. It's not like they couldn't have voted to reinstate it later if the state ran out of funds again.
The federal government seems immune from the loss of revenue, because they are allowed to go into as much debt as they want. Apparently. Not that they should. (Downgrades, anyone? Higher taxes? Loss of economic prosperity? Count me out if we don't get sensible fiscal conservatives to turn things around in 2012). Federal government employment has increased 11.4% under Obama, according to the BLS.
Rush Limbaugh had a slightly different perspective to add to the mix of analyses: unions. Obama wants more union jobs. He's calling for an increase in teaches, policemen, firemen, etc. which are all union jobs tied to the public sector though their pay comes at the local level - more directly tied to the private sector. Obama loves unions because unions donate to Democrats, who in turn funnel government money back to unions (stimulus, his JOBS act, various contracts on state and local levels, etc.).
Obama must not have gotten the message from Wisconsin: nearly 40% of public union members voted for Walker and Romney has about that much support from public union members across the country. Just because unions - the beaurocratic, power and money hungry end of unions - sway Democrat doesn't mean that their constituents wouldn't bow out if given the chance, as they were in Wisconsin. Down with mandatory union participation! Down with union-approved contracts instead of free market competition! Get rid of those in every state a la Wisconsin, and the private sector really will be doing fine, just like it is in Wisconsin.