I don’t know how to be any clearer about this, but here goes. It is now beyond doubt that Mitt Romney will be resting his case against Obama on two core claims.
The first: At Bain Capital, Romney created over 100,000 jobs, which proves he has the job-creation experience to turn the economy around.
The second: Under the Obama presidency, the country has actually lost jobs, which proves his record is a failure.
These claims are absolutely central to Romney’s entire rationale for runing for president. Is it too much to expect reporters and news outlets to scrutinize them or to ask him to substantiate them?
The Romney campaign is triumphantly circulating a quote that Romney gave to Fox News today. Asked about the Dem criticism of his Bain years, Romney replied:
“This is a president who lost more jobs during his tenure than any president since Hoover. This is 2 million jobs that he lost as President. And by the way, when he was overseeing General Motors and Chrysler, how many factories did he close? How many dealerships? How many thousands upon thousands of Americans had to be let go in an effort to try and save those businesses? That’s what we did in our business. And I’m very happy in my former life; we helped create over 100,000 new jobs. By the way, we created more jobs in Massachusetts than this president’s created in the entire country. So if the President wants to talk about jobs, and I hope he does, we’ll be comparing my record with his record and he comes up very, very short.”
It’s obviously too much to expect Fox to challenge these claims. But Romney has made this assertion about 100,000 new jobs in various other settings, too. As Steve Benen noted, his Super PAC is also making a very similar claim in ads. And as far as I can tell, only two lonely fact checking operations — one at the Post, the other at FactCheck.org — have scrutinized it. They have found that the assertion is at best unsubstantiated and that there may have been more layoffs than jobs created by Bain; there’s no way to tell for sure. When will reporters push Romney on this?
Meanwhile, Romney’s claim that two million jobs were lost under the Obama presidency is based on the idea that there’s been a net loss of jobs since he took office. In other words, Romney is taking into account the fact that the economy continued hemorraghing jobs at a furious rate after Obama took office — before Obama’s stimulus passed. But the figures show that once it became law, monthly job loss declined over time, and turned around in the spring of 2010, after which the private sector added jobs for over 20 straight months, totaling around 2.2 million of them.
You can debate whether the stimulus underperformed. You can debate whether the stimulus is the reason the economy did add private sector jobs. You can argue that public sector jobs loss should be factored in. But it is not debatable to claim that the overall net jobs loss number Romney cites is a fair measure of the success or failure of Obama’s policies. At an absolute minimum, Romney should be pressed to explain why he’s claiming this net loss figure as an indictment of those policies, when many of those jobs were lost before the policies were implemented.
When NBC, to its enormous credit, pressed Romney to justify his debunked claim that Obama made the economy “worse,” the network made big news by getting Romney to backtrack. These latest claims provide another opportunity to do the same, people.