Via Greg Sargent
With spin like this, perhaps they should go back to blowing bubbles
at David Axelrod...
, the Mitt Romney campaign is once again arguing
that unlike President Obama, Mitt Romney shouldn't be held accountable for his lousy net job creation record because he inherited a mess:
“This is what they’re doing, Chris,” [senior Romney adviser Ed] Gillespie said. “You take the first year, which is a low base year when the governor came in and took office, because it was 50th in job creation out of all of the states, dead last … and they’re averaging out over the four years. So, they are bringing down the gains of his fourth year in office, which shows the real impact of his policies and diluting it with the first year in office.”
Gillespie went on to claim that when Romney left office, Massachusetts was 30th in the nation. More on that later, but given that there are 50 states, being in 30th place wouldn't be all that great. Nonetheless, "We're #30!" appears to be an official Romney talking point, because as Pema Levy notes
Eric Fehrnstom repeated it:
“Can I just say, on the jobs question, because this comes up repeatedly that Massachusetts was 47 out of 50 in terms of jobs growth,” he said. “Actually, when Mitt Romney arrived, Massachusetts was an economic basket house. If you throw D.C. into the mix, we were 51 out of 51. By the time Mitt Romney left four years later, we were in the middle of the pack. We were 30th in the nation in terms of job growth.”
As I said above, being in the middle of the pack isn't exactly something to brag about, but it turns out that even Mitt Romney's double standard wouldn't put him in the middle of the pack. After reading Gillespie's and Fehrnstrom's claims, I looked through state-by-state job creation numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (available here
) and it turns out that Romney is blowing smoke no matter how you cut it.
As a reminder, the statistic that Romneyland is trying to counter is that during the four years of his gubernatorial term, Massachusetts ranked 47th out of 50 states in job creation. During that timeframe, total jobs grew by 1.5 percent inside Massachusetts compared with 5.4 percent in other states.
They claim that by the end of his term, Massachusetts had improved to 30th in the nation, but even that is still below average. In fact, in every individual year of Romney's gubernatorial administration, jobs growth in Massachusetts was lower than jobs growth in the country as a whole. Even if Massachusetts were above average, it wouldn't make sense to just look at the end of his term—unless Romney wants to tell people that he wouldn't start creating jobs until 2016.
The pathetic thing here is that Romney is forced to cherry-pick such a lousy number because the other ways of slicing up his term are even worse. If you accept Romney's argument that the clock shouldn't start running right at the beginning of his term, his four-year numbers are still bad.
If you start the clock in July of 2003, six months after Romney was sworn in, and continue it through July of 2007, six months after he left office, Massachusetts ranked 44th out of 50 states in job creation. Jobs grew by 2.7 percent inside the state, compared with 6.3 percent in other states. And if you start the clock in January of 2004, a fully year after Romney was sworn in, and continue it through January of 2008, a year after he left office, Massachusetts ranked 38th out of 50 states in job creation. Jobs grew by 3.8 percent inside the state, compared with 5.9 percent in other states.
Those are still pretty bad numbers—going from 47th to 38th is hardly a miracle, especially when the state was 37th of 50 in the four years before Romney took office and has been 13th of 50 since he left office. But beyond the fact that those are bad numbers, if Mitt Romney now thinks the clock shouldn't start running at the beginning of his administration, shouldn't that have a profound implication for his critique of President Obama?
After all, President Obama has seen nearly 4 million jobs created since his first year in office even though he inherited an economic collapse. And that number would be even higher if Republicans hadn't refused to move forward on his jobs plan to put state and local workers like teachers, cops, and firefighters back to work and if they hadn't blocked his proposals to put construction workers back on the job rebuilding roads, bridges, and airports.
In the end, no matter how you look at it, Mitt Romney's economic record in Massachusetts was unimpressive. That's why he doesn't talk about it on the campaign trail, and in his effort to make it not seem abysmal, he's holding himself to a completely different standard than he's holding President Obama. But even with his double-standard, Romney's record is at best mediocre. Perhaps what he really needs is a new double-standard.