The first problem is that Mitt Romney actually has two different claims about creating 12 million jobs. One of those claims is that he would create 12 million jobs over the next four years, but as Kessler notes, the problem with that claim is that economic forecasters are already predicting 12 million new jobs over the next four years. That's what would happen with or without Romney in the White House, so it's really a meaningless claim.
Perhaps because of that fact, Romney has recently started touting a new 12 million job claim, claiming that he will create 12 million jobs that would not have otherwise been created. That's the claim the Kessler spends most of his time assessing, and here's what he found:
- Romney's claim is based on three studies, but two of the three studies didn't actually assess any of Romney's proposals and the third is a projection covering a ten year time period.
- One of the studies—which Romney's campaign claims accounts for three of his 12 million jobs claims—actually is a report on energy sector jobs growth based on current policies, many of which Romney has pledged to repeal. So far from adding three million jobs, Romney's threat to repeal green energy policies could actually cost jobs. Even if the three million jobs claim wasn't bogus, however, the timeframe of the study was eight years—not the four of his original 12 million claim.
- Another one of the studies is a report on what would happen if China were to respect intellectual property rights. According to report, two million jobs would be created. But the baseline for that estimate was last year, when unemployment was much higher than it is today, and as the report points out, that would diminish the number of jobs to be created. Moreover, the report makes no mention of Mitt Romney—so he's embracing a two million jobs figure that didn't assess his campaign proposals nor is likely to be accurate given today's economic conditions.
- The final study is a report from a Rice University professor which claims Romney's tax plan would create seven million jobs over ten years. As Kessler notes, at least this report purported to examine a Romney proposal, but ten years is not four years. And even if you ignore that fact, you'd still have to believe that cutting taxes on the rich will generate so much economic growth that employment would go up by 7 million jobs above and beyond what it would have done without the tax cuts. If you believe that, you didn't pay attention to the Bush presidency.
Bottom-line: Mitt Romney started out with a claim of creating 12 million jobs over the next four years. It turned out that economists say they already expect that many jobs to be created, so Romney needed to change his talking point to something that he could claim was 12 million jobs above and beyond what would have been created. In order to do that, he grabbed three studies, two of which didn't examine his policy proposals and one of which projected jobs growth over a ten year period, ending in 2023.
Romney continues to present this 12 million jobs figure as if it were real without noting that it's actually a projection for what would happen by 2023. Even if you give him credit for the seven million jobs projected in the paper on his tax plan, the average annual job gains that he's talking about are 700,000—less than one-quarter of his original 12 million jobs claim. So even by Romney's own math, his numbers don't add up. Unless, of course, you believe in magic asterisks.