Making his last ditch appeal to Midwestern voters, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney said the economy would have been better had he been president. Instead of giving President Barack Obama credit where it’s due, Romney continued the same themes implying that had he been president the nation’s economy and unemployment rate would have been better off. Romney asks voters to believe him, not the Labor or Commerce Departments that show steady though slow growth under Obama. What Romney never mentions is former Fed. chief Alan Greenspan’s assessment during the historic economic meltdown of 2007-08 that the economy would take years, perhaps a decade, to fully recover. No, Mitt insists that under his Supply Side, Trickle Down policies, the same ones practiced by former President George W. Bush, things would somehow be better.
Romney promises 12 million new private sector jobs in his first term. Yet he refuses to say exactly how he plans to pull it off. He’s hinted strongly his policies differ from Bush but won’t say how his tax cutting plan departs from past GOP tax cuts, including the ones under the late President Ronald Reagan which quadrupled the deficit during his eight years in office. Romney wants to deal with the U.S. budget deficit by cutting the federal work force. While he won’t say exactly how many federal workers would lose their jobs, he’s hinted strongly that he and his VP pick House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) know how to fix the budget. Ryan’s budget proposals call for significant cuts to the federal workforce, including cuts to popular entitlement programs. Mitt and Paul plan to cut taxes and increase defense spending without exploding federal budget deficits.
Romney says Barack “made the problem worse” but doesn’t say exactly which problem got worse. Mitt sells his economic plan in the battleground states of Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan where voters know full well that he would have let General Motors and Chrysler go bankrupt. Now selling cars again and employing formerly laid off autoworkers on three shifts, the auto industry has made a stunning recovery after Obama’s Feb. 17, 2009 bailouts. Knocking GM as “government motors,” the auto giant has made a stellar comeback from the days when it couldn’t sell cars. How anyone connected to Detroit’s auto industry can believe Romney is anyone’s guess. Mitt doesn’t give Barack any credit for having the good sense to help Detroit when times were tough. Obama didn’t make the problem worse for Detroit, or, for that matter, the stock market that is up about 70% from the day Barack took office.
Romney likes to point out that Barack promised bipartisanship since taking office Jan. 20, 2009, “Four years ago, America voted for a post-partisan president, but they have seen the most political of presidents, and a Washington in gridlock because of it,” Romney told a crowd in Ames, Iowa. How ironic that Mitt’s VP pick is the most partisan member of the Republican House who doesn’t give Barack one inch. Ryan’s strategy has been to obstruct any piece of legislation that might fix the economy, hoping things would get worse by Election Day. Any type of good economic news, including the Labor Dept. reporting Oct. 5 that the unemployment rate dropped from 8.1% on 7.8% or the National Association of Realtors reporting Oct. 26 that existing home sales have increased 9% over 2011. Any positive economic news is totally ignored by Romney and Ryan’s stump speeches.
Mitt promises to use his experience as a Wall Street leveraged buy out guy for Bain Capital to help fix the economy. What Romney found out working for Bain is that businesses’ biggest expense is payroll. To turn around distressed business, Mitt found out it’s easiest to lay off workers. While he plans to do the same thing with the federal government, there’s a big difference with government jobs. Laying off federal workers would damage the economy by adding to the unemployment rate. With over 1.4 million employees, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben S. Bernanke has warned politicians not to slash government spending. Romney and Ryan believe that slashing government spending would stimulate private sector jobs. Mitt knows there’s no precedent for stimulating the economy by slashing federal jobs. While the economy’s only growing by 2%, it’s better than a double-dip recession.
Romney’s close to battleground voters involves selling them on the idea that things are getting worse under Obama. Mitt and Paul never give Barack one iota of credit for any positive sign in the economy. Their argument to voters involves we could have done better. Given that Romney and Ryan want more tax cuts, it’s impossible to stimulate growth without bigger budget deficits. When Reagan promised the exact same thing in 1980, he quadrupled budget deficits by the time he left office in 1989. Like other stubborn recessions, neither political party has a monopoly on fixing the economy. Since the last GOP administration put the economy into a ditch, Obama deserves another term to improve on something he’s put in motion. If the Oct. Labor Department report speaks the truth, Barack’s Obamacare should continue the trend of adding quality jobs to the economy in the foreseeable future.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.