The Washington Post

Obama is burdened by his own words

As the economy deteriorates, and the Romney campaign gears up its advertising strategy and messages for the fall campaign, President Obama’s problem of having to accept responsibility for the economy will only grow.  He is already weak on this issue, even before a lot of voters have tuned in, and well before Mitt Romney has sharpened his attacks. 

I am told much of what will be used against Obama starting in August will be his own words from the 2008 campaign and from the early days of his administration.  For instance, there will be ads that won’t just feature Solyndra as an example of a waste of more than $500 million of taxpayer money but that will confront Obama with his comments regarding green jobs. In February 2008, while standing in a GM plant in Janesville, Wis., Obama stated that, “My energy plan will invest $150 billion over ten years to establish a green energy sector that will create up to 5 million new jobs over the next two decades — jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced.  We’ll also provide funding to help manufacturers convert to green technology and help workers learn the skills they need for these jobs.” 

A “friendly” analysis done by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, an agency of the Obama administration, revealed that so far, Obama’s green jobs program has been pathetic, with an estimated maximum total of 225,000 direct and indirect jobs created from 2009-2011.  (Somehow, “indirect jobs” has been contorted to even include school bus drivers.)  However, a more neutral observer, the Investor’s Business Daily, did its own analysis of the report, concluding that the entire green jobs program under the stimulus has been a disaster, creating only 910 direct jobs.  That’s a cost to the taxpayer of about $9.8 million per job.  I’m certain that if they had given the money to Mitt Romney and he had invested $9 billion, he could do better than create 910 jobs.

The whole notion of green jobs was always a mirage, but even early on, no one could expect it to become such a punchline and the subject so much ridicule. It’s naïve as either economic or energy policy.  I doubt if anyone knows which one it was intended to be.  The Romney campaign is sitting on dozens of these nuggets, just waiting for when the time is right. 

Meanwhile, a USA Today/Gallup poll out today shows that 63 percent of voters believe that Romney’s business background would enable him to make good decisions when dealing with economic problems as president.  Obama’s going to have real problems when people decide that more of the same is not desirable, and they begin to study the alternative to determine if he is likely to do a better job and try something different. Despite the onslaught of Obama’s attacks on Romney’s Bain background, his taxes, etc., Romney’s credibility on his ability to strengthen the economy has not diminished, and credibility on the economy is what will produce a winner or loser in November.

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.


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