Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Catch of the Day

It goes to Glenn Kessler, Washington Post fact-checker, who decided to find out about Mitt Romney's promise of 12 million jobs and discovered that Romney's own documentation doesn't come close to adding up.

Two points, perhaps obvious, to make about this.

One is a point someone made on twitter this morning (and my apologies; I remember seeing it, but didn't save it): wait -- it took the Post's fact-checker, long after Romney's been running around with this 12 million number, to track down the campaign's evidence and look at it? Aren't there, you know, some reporters assigned to this campaign? What have they been up to? For that matter: where has Team Obama been? This doesn't seem like a particularly difficult job of opposition research. Now, for all I know the Obama campaign has been shopping this around and couldn't get anyone to bite, but that does seem unlikely to me. Not the shopping around part. But if they had been, surely they could find someone in these days of a partisan press to run with it.

The second is just the overwhelming laziness, once again, of the Romney campaign and more generally the current GOP. C'mon; they can't manage to get the support materials for their plan to match what they're saying? I mean, it's pretty obvious what the story is here. Romney's five-point plan wasn't designed for economic recovery; it's a set of proposals that Republicans have been running on in good times and bad for some time now. And current conservative dogma precludes any actual economic stimulus plan; business cycles are to be left on their own (and, yes, I agree with those who expect that this particular piece of conservative wisdom will expire the moment Romney wins, but never mind that right now). Given high unemployment, however, it makes sense to package the programs Romney likes as a jobs plan, which sort of required a number for "how many jobs?", with the requirement being that the number was high enough that it wouldn't sound pathetic but low enough that it wouldn't immediately become a broken promise (note that Obama has avoided any particular jobs promises, too). So, yes, I fully expect that in cases like this the results would be back-engineered. But I'd also expect the numbers to add up, at least in some plausible first-look kind of way.

Well, I'd expect it from most campaigns.

And: nice catch!


  1. I always assumed that 12 million figure was made up out of whole cloth. I never for a second thought there would be any documented support for it. So in that sense, the Romney campaign is less lazy than I expected them to be.

    1. I assumed that they would there would be campaign materials saying that, well, it would create 12 million jobs. Just because. It's far lazier, IMO, to have stuff available for the press which doesn't even bother t add up to the right number.

  2. Any thoughts on why this story hasn't gotten more traction in the press? I haven't even seen it in the liberal press? Does it just take longer than I think for a story to catch or will this be about all the coverage it receives?

  3. I had always assumed that the number came from the Moodys Analytics projection that we're on the road to 12 million jobs in four years anyhow. It's strange (or just sad) that they put together the figures from different timeframes just to be able to mention his pet projects instead of referencing his own white paper, which had the same conclusion. That said, the white paper is suspicious, too, inasmuch as it appears to equate the present "liquidity trap" inappropriately with past postwar recessions.

    Speaking of which, it occurred to me that people keep saying that it's rare, or nearly impossible, based on postwar precedents, for an incumbent president to be reelected with such high unemployment figures, but in the last full-blown depression, incumbent presidents did quite well.


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