Mitt Romney on Judging the Record on Jobs and the Economy

How to score the jobs reports.

By SHARE
Romney
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks about job numbers, Friday, July 6, 2012, at Bradley's Hardware in Wolfeboro, N.H.

Let's engage in an exercise in intellectual honesty and spin control. I'll give a couple of quotes and you guess whether they were uttered by an Obama campaign hack defending the tepid economy or by Mitt Romney.

Both come from American Bridge, via Steven Benen at the Rachel Maddow blog.

Here's entry number one:

The people of America recognize that the slowdown in jobs that occurred during the early years of the Bush administration were the result of a perfect storm. And an effort by one candidate to somehow say, 'Oh, this recession and the slowdown in jobs was the result of somehow this president magically being elected,' people in America just dismiss that as being poppycock. And they recognize it as that.

...

Every indication is that the economic policies adopted and pursued by this president are creating jobs at a very high pace. And so the people of America have to ask, 'Do I stay with the president, who is rebuilding the economy, who is creating jobs, or do you want to stop mid-stream and find someone new?'

[See a collection of political cartoons on the economy.]

If you guessed that that was an Obama campaign official trying to explain away unemployment ticking up … you'd be wrong. In fact that's Mitt Romney from April of 2004, defending the sluggish Bush economy. Because you see voters are smart enough to understand the circumstances surrounding a new administration can be tough (like the 800,000 jobs lost per month when Obama came into office) and put things into perspective (like 29 straight months of private sector job growth with 4.5 million jobs being created in that time).

In that same vein, here's another quotation. Guess who it's from:

You guys are bright enough to look at the numbers. I came in and the jobs had been just falling off a cliff. ... And then we turned around and we're coming back. And that's progress. And if you're going to suggest to me that somehow the day I got elected somehow jobs should immediately turned around, why that would be silly. It takes a while to get things turned around. We were in a recession; we were losing jobs every month. We've turned it around ... That's progress.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Mitt Romney.]

That sounds rather like President Obama, doesn't it? And it's a fair argument—a new president can't wave a magic wand on January 20 and expect their policies to suddenly be in place and implemented. It takes months to start to have an effect.

But of course that's not Obama but instead is … Mitt Romney! That's Mitt speaking in June, 2006 about why net job growth was flat under his tenure. Why to take the record out of context and just look at the net, bottom line figure—that would be silly.

  • Read Boris Epshteyn: Romney Should Use Jobs Report to Draw Contrast With Obama
  • Follow the Thomas Jefferson Street blog on Twitter at @TJSBlog.
  • Check out U.S. News Weekly: an insider's guide to politics and policy.