I’m glad to see that there’s been a moderately aggressive media response to Mitt Romney’s latest falsehood: The claim that 92 percent of the people who have lost jobs on Obama’s watch are women.
The argument, which his campaign is now making regularly, is central to Romney’s effort to win back women who were apparently alienated by the primary.
The assertion has now been debunked by Politifact, the Post’s Glenn Kessler, and NBC’s Domenico Montanaro. All three of them point out, among other things, that the claim relies on a net overall job loss calculation that uses January 2009 as a starting point. It factors in the huge amount of jobs lost when the economy was in free fall in the first months when Obama was in office, before his policies took effect.
As Politifact said of Romney’s female job loss claim: “One could reasonably argue that January 2009 employment figures are more a result of President George W. Bush’s policies, at least as far as any president can be blamed or credited for private-sector hiring.”
Good work! But here’s the thing about this. Romney’s use of the basic fallacy on display here goes well beyond this one claim about women. It’s central to virtually his entire case against Obama’s economic record.
Romney has been arguing in every conceivable forum for many months that jobs were lost on Obama’s watch, proving that he is a job destroyer and that his policies failed. To do this, he’s using that same metric to prove this point — even though that metric factors in job losses that occurred before those policies took effect.
Back in January the Romney campaign was using that metric to argue that two million jobs were lost on Obama’s watch. Romney has echoed this basic charge multiple times since then, changing the number to keep pace with improving economic news; earlier this month, Romney was claiming that “800,000 jobs have been lost.” Even if the number has changed, the methodology used to calculate it has remained consistent.
But as the new fact checks of Romney’s claim about women drive home, this methodology is thoroughly bogus. And it goes far beyond this one assertion about women. It is central to Romney’s whole candidacy.
To be sure, this month’s disappointing jobs numbers put a crimp in Obama’s case about the recovery, and another dip remains very possible. But that doesn’t make Romney’s creative use of the jobs numbers defensible. And it’s good to see that the current dust-up over female job loss may be awakening more media people to the far larger falsehood at the center of his whole argument.