The Romney campaign’s getting some unwanted attention today over an ad in which Mitt Romney himself makes some specious claims about the job-creating potential of different elements of his five-point economic plan.
Add it all up, and that plan will create 12 million jobs, Romney said.
When the Washington Post asked for supporting research, the Romney camp sent over a few studies that, it turns out, don’t really back up Romney’s claims at all.
More on those studies later.
For now, though, you may be asking why Romney would tape a television ad teeing up very specific claims — claims begging to be debunked — when he could have just remained vague about his promises.
The answer takes us back to a long-forgotten political era that ended two weeks ago when President Obama lost his first debate. Romney’s 12 million jobs promise long predates the ad, or even the release of his five-point jobs plan. By sheer coincidence, I’m sure, he was essentially promising the same growth that economic forecasters expect over the next four years, regardless of who wins in November.
Back then, though, things weren’t going so well for him in the polls. It seemed like every day his aides were announcing new plans to reboot the campaign. One of those plans included specific proposals to create jobs.
But by being the slightest bit specific back then, he created a problem in that his new plan had to fulfill the old promise. It turns out that meant finding some off-point studies and employing some sleight of hand to make it seem like the new jobs plan he’s promoting would create the same 12 million jobs he’d promised starting months ago. They don’t, unless, as the Post found, you use bad math, extend the time horizon to 10 years, and relying on reports that aren’t even analyses of Romney’s policy proposals.
If you do that, you can claim three million jobs here, seven million jobs there, two million jobs elsewhere, but, “[t]he big point is the 3+7+ 2 does not make up the 12 million jobs in the first four years (different source of growth and different time period),” his economic adviser Glenn Hubbard told the Post in an email.
If Romney becomes president, and the economy grows as expected, he’ll no doubt attribute those jobs to whatever policies he’s able to put in place. That might be great news for supply side adherents, fossil fuel supporters, and opponents of social insurance. But there’s no evidence to suggest it would be thanks to Romney’s five point jobs plan.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.