Romney omits context on jobs, economy in acceptance speech
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In his acceptance speech for the Republican presidential nomination, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney focused more on his biography than his policy positions. But there were moments when his facts went awry or were missing important context:
"... And unlike the president, I have a plan to create 12 million new jobs."
This sounds like a pretty bold statement, especially considering that only two presidents -- Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, who both served two terms -- created more than 12 million jobs. Mr. Romney says he could reach this same goal in just four years, although the policy paper his campaign issued contains few details. It is mostly a collection of policy assertions, such as reducing debt, overhauling the tax code, fostering free trade and so forth.
But the number is even less ambitious than it sounds. His pledge amounts to an average of 250,000 new jobs per month, a far cry from the 500,000 positions a month that Mr. Romney claimed would be part of a "normal recovery." In recent months, the economy has averaged about 150,000 jobs per month.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office assumes that 9.6 million jobs will be created in the next four years. (This is a revision downward; CBO had estimated 11 million in January.)
Moody's Analytics, in an August forecast, predicted that 12 million jobs will be created by 2016, no matter who is president. And Macroeconomic Advisors in April predicted a gain of 12.3 million jobs.
In other words, this is a fairly safe bet by Mr. Romney, even if he has a somewhat fuzzy plan. We have often noted that presidents are often at the mercy -- or become the beneficiary -- of broad economic trends, and Mr. Romney's pledge appears to be an effort to take advantage of that.
"I will begin my presidency with a jobs tour. President Obama began with an apology tour."
This is one of Mr. Romney's signature lines, but in a lengthy column last year, we tracked down every statement President Barack Obama uttered that partisans said was an apology, and concluded that each one had been misquoted or taken out of context. His comments were not much different from those of his predecessor, George W. Bush.
On several occasions Mr. Bush apologized to foreign governments for actions of errant U.S. troops. "I told him I was sorry for the humiliation suffered by the Iraqi prisoners and the humiliation suffered by their families," Mr. Bush said at a 2004 news conference with Jordan's King Abdullah.
Mr. Romney for months has been repeating this line: "Does [the American we want] fail to find the jobs that are needed for 23 million people and for half the kids graduating from college? No."
Mr. Romney is referring to an Associated Press survey earlier this year that concluded that about 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor's degree-holders under age 25 last year were jobless or underemployed. This was the highest level in 11 years, since the dot-com bust.
"A weak labor market already has left half of young college graduates either jobless or underemployed in positions that don't fully use their skills and knowledge," the AP said.
Mr. Romney often cites this fact, but he's generally careful to include the phrase "underemployed." His phrasing in his speech may have led viewers to believe that 50 percent of college graduates cannot find jobs, which is incorrect.
"His trillion-dollar cuts to our military will eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs, and also put our security at greater risk."
Mr. Romney attributes planned military cuts entirely to Mr. Obama, but they are the result of a 2011 budget deal between the president and congressional Republicans that avoided a default on the national debt. Leaders agreed to include additional automatic cuts to the military as an incentive to reach a broader deal, but a congressional "supercommittee" was unable to reach an agreement.
Mr. Obama has proposed raising taxes on the wealthy to end the impasse, but congressional Republicans have rejected that proposal.
"Unlike President Obama, I will not raise taxes on the middle class."
Mr. Romney appears to be referring to mandates in the health care law, but overall, Mr. Obama has cut taxes broadly for the middle class. He has extended Bush tax cuts, included a Making Work Pay credit in the stimulus bill, and reduced payroll taxes by 2 percentage points in the past two years. Mr. Obama has called for raising the taxes of people making more than $250,000 a year.
First Published September 1, 2012 12:00 am