Mitt Romney has made weak job growth under President Obama and his promise to do better the central argument of his candidacy. The Romney campaign sends out daily missives with headlines like “College Students to Obama: Where are the Jobs?” and “President Obama has Failed to get California Back to Work.” They have made multiple videos to hammer the point home.
In fact, whenever Romney is asked about another issue, he is liable to preface his answer by saying that nothing matters so much as jobs. In the last Republican debate,when asked about “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal, he began with the total non sequitur, “Well, one, we ought to be talking about the economy and jobs.”
At the same debate Romney asserted:
“What this president has done has slowed the economy. He didn’t create the recession, but he made it worse and longer. And now we have more chronic long-term employment than this country has ever seen before…. This president has failed. And he’s failed at a time when the American people counted on him to create jobs and get the economy growing…. I spent my life in the private sector, twenty-five years…. You can tell how—how to get jobs going in this country, and President Obama has done it wrong.”
Such a claim—that President Obama has failed at creating jobs and Romney’s private sector experience means he would do better—naturally raises the question: How has Mitt Romney done at creating jobs?
Not so well, as it turns out. First, during that quarter-century of private sector experience, Romney worked at a private equity firm that attempted to take over and turn around failing companies. As Bloomberg reported last week, that often meant laying off workers. Other times, they failed to revive companies and shed workers in bankruptcy. Relative to an innovative entrepreneur such as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who invented a product and built a large company, Romney’s record in the private sector was not one of impressive job creation. These incidents have haunted Romney’s career since 1994, when laid-off workers protested his Senate campaign.
But even if you were to assume that any private-sector experience equals job creation, it does not necessarily follow that business success translates into success in public office. As governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007, Romney presided over anemic job growth. According to Reuters, “Labor Department figures showed Massachusetts ranked forty-seventh among the states in the rate of jobs growth in those four years —ahead of only Ohio, Michigan and Louisiana.” You might expect this to make Romney shy about constantly attacking anyone else’s record on job growth, but it hasn’t. Nor, apparently, has a series of embarrassing revelations about Romney’s campaign commercials and speeches.