I know I’m a broken record on this. But it’s important, say I!

As noted below, Mitt Romney has, at various times, offered differing critiques of Obama’s economic record. Depending on the moment, he has either said that Obama’s policies made the recession worse, and that Obama’s overall record is as a job destroyer; or he has acknowledged that the economy has improved on Obama’s watch, in spite of his policies.

Today, responding in Nevada to this morning’s good economic news, Romney managed to make both these claims at the same campaign stop. First he said:

“This recovery has been slower than it should have been, people have been suffering for longer than they should have had to suffer. Will it get better? I think it’ll get better. I don’t know how long it’s going to take,” Romney said at a business roundtable outside Reno. “ We got good news this morning on job creation in January. I hope that continues, we get people back to work.”

In other words, yes, the economy is improving. But then he said:

“This has been a tough time. And I know the president didn’t cause this downturn — this recession. But he didn’t make it better either. He made it worse,” Romney said.”

Let’s be as fair as possible to Romney here. He seems to be saying that Obama’s policies first exacerbated the recession — and then after that, the economy rebounded and has started to improve, albeit more slowly than it otherwise might have if those policies weren’t in effect. In other words, Obama’s policies did have an impact — they were only responsible for the economy’s free fall that continued during the first months of Obama’s term just after the meltdown, and they are not in any way responsible for the economy’s turnaround since then, which has only been hindered by them.

Fair enough. No contradiction here. But will someone at least ask Romney for a coherent explanation as to how this might have worked?

All my caveats about this topic are right here. Meanwhile, Kevin Drum had a funny item on Romney’s latest equivocations:

For the past two years Obama has basically been forced to say that, sure, the economy is bad, but it would have been even worse without his policies in place. That might be true or it might not, but it’s sure not a vote getter.
Now Romney’s on the other end of that argument. Sure, the economy is getting better, but it would be even better still without Obama’s policies. Again, maybe that’s true and maybe it’s not, but no one cares. If the economy is getting better, then people are happy and they’re going to vote for the guy in the White House.