So Mitt Romney said Obama made the economy worse; then he said he didn’t say that. Now he’s saying that again.
He seems to be giving Newt Gingrich a run for his money in the wishy-washy I don’t know what I really think department.
You might remember back to the New Hampshire debate when Romney said, clear as a bell:
“He didn’t create the recession, but he made it worse and longer.”
“I didn’t say that things are worse.”
“What I said was that economy hasn’t turned around, that you’ve got 20 million Americans out of work, or seriously unemployed; housing values still going down. You have a crisis of foreclosures in this country. The economy, by the way, if you think the economy is great and going well, be my guest. But the president of the United States, when he put in place his stimulus plan and borrowed $787 billion, said he would hold unemployment below 8% — and 8% seemed like an awfully high number. It hasn’t been below 8% since. That’s failure. We’re over 9% unemployment. That’s failure. He set the bogie himself at 8% ,which strikes me as a very high number and we’re still above that three years later.”
But that’s not true. He did say things are worse. Last Monday the message was this:
“The people of New Hampshire have waited long enough. They want to see good jobs. They want to see rising incomes. They want to see an economy that’s growing again, and the president’s failed. He did not cause this recession, but he made it worse.”
Now he’s saying it again, most recently after a Fourth of July parade in Amherst, New Hampshire:
“The recession is deeper because of our president, it’s seen an anemic recovery because of our president.”
ABC News says that Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul claimed that “Mitt Romney was responding to the reporter’s comment about the stock market.” But ABC News says that is not true, that this is what producer Sue Kroll asked Romney:
“Gov. Romney, you continue to say that the economy is worse. But unemployment is lower than it was in 2009; the stock market was tumbling and is now above 12,000; and it is growing slowly — we just had 12%, excuse me, 2% gain this quarter. So how do you continue to say that things are worse if they really aren’t worse?”
And of course, never mind that the National Bureau of Economic Research says the recession officially ended in June 2009. But we don’t want to give facts undue weight when considering claims we make, a point Andrea Saul seemed aware of when she attempted to support Romney’s on-again-off-again claims by citing the unemployment rate, housing prices and national debt:
“It is an undeniable fact that Barack Obama has failed to create jobs and fix the economy. He is on track to be the only president to leave office with a net job loss,” Saul said. “President Obama and the Democrats will spend the next 17 months trying to distract voters from their horrible record on the economy – and it’s not going to work.”
But how true are her claims? Even the Washington Post recognized that the economy was improving last year, albeit undramatically. By the end of last year, Bloomberg was reporting that economic indicators clearly show improvements in the economy, including “stocks rose and fewer people fil[ing] for unemployment benefits, boosting the prospects for consumer spending in coming months,” not to mention as of November “The index of U.S. leading indicators [rising] for a fourth consecutive month.”
In January 2011, CNBC reported that “The U.S. economic recovery is broadening and could strengthen slightly in the near term, according to a private industry group’s index of economic indicators released Thursday [20 January].” The Conference Board data showed Bloomberg was right: “Six of the 10 leading indicators increased in December.”
So where is the Romney campaign getting its flawed (or nonexistent) data? Probably where Republicans usually get their data: they invented it. After all, Republican polls are showing the opposite of what other polls are showing, claiming that the majority of New Yorkers opposed Marriage Equality when the opposite is true.
Of course, Romney and other candidates can hardly admit the New York State government did what the people want because it violates the Republican narrative of Democrats as tyrants opposing the will of the people, and they can hardly admit the economy is improving when it violates their narrative that President Obama has made a muddle of the economy, and they sure can’t admit to their own role in hindering the economic recovery by opposing Obama’s efforts at every turn. They have painted themselves into a corner with an inflexible, uncompromising doctrine and reality is going to catch up to them.
The facts are that most American blame Bush, not Obama for our economic situation. The Republicans got caught holding the steering oar when the ship of state wallowed and this inescapable fact is going to continue to haunt them. Given most people seem to be aware of the reality of the situation, the hope for a campaign platform of wishful thinking seems forlorn. Still, they apparently think they gotta try; thus Romney’s wishy-washy attempts of the past few days.