During the federal shutdown fights of last spring, one of the prevalent questions on Capitol Hill was whether government creates jobs.
When House Republicans unveiled a stopgap measure last spring to slice $61 billion from the federal budget, Democrats responded that the plan would have led to the loss of 700,000 jobs.
Throughout the debate, Republicans held firm in their assertion that government doesn’t create jobs — rather, it can create an environment conducive to job creation.
The question of the relationship between government and job-creation has reentered the political spotlight this week, although it’s now taking place in the presidential campaign, not on the Hill.
As the Obama campaign has doubled down on its efforts to define former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s (R) tenure at Bain Capital, the Romney camp has responded by framing the presumptive GOP nominee as a candidate with a strong record on job-creation.
Part of their argument: Romney created tens of thousands of jobs during his four years as Massachusetts governor.
“With respect to Mitt Romney’s period of time as the governor of Massachusetts, in that four years as governor, he created on a net basis somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000 jobs,” Romney senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said Monday in an interview on MSNBC. “That is more than President Obama has created for the entire nation.”
Former New Hampshire governor John H. Sununu reprised that argument on a conference call with reporters Tuesday morning, arguing that as governor, Romney created more jobs than Obama has created as president.
A reporter on the conference call asked Sununu to clarify his remarks, given that Republicans frequently contend that government doesn’t create jobs.
As governor, Sununu responded, Romney “created a climate so the private sector could grind those jobs out.”
The question is one facing GOP governors in swing states as well. Many of those governors — including Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell — have argued that the improving employment situation in their states is due largely to policies they have enacted since taking office.
We’d like your thoughts — is the Romney camp’s job-creation message at odds with the GOP tenet that government doesn’t create jobs? Or is it in line with the notion that government can create an environment for job creation? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.