Having entered the "closing argument" phase of the campaign, President Obama has pivoted to jobs. But as Bill Scher noted, the president's newly published jobs plan is cribbed from from policies that he's already proposed. President Obama has always enjoyed the advantage a massive policy gap between him and Romney. President Obama is finally pressing his his policy advantage on jobs — effectively saying to conservatives, "We've got you jobs bills right here," right where they've always been. (Now, he should do the same with his job creation advantage.) The "nitty gritty" details of President Obama's jobs plan are posted on the White House website, and thus are a matter of public record.
On the other hand, Mitt Romney's jobs plan is based on bogus math, just as bad as the math behind his tax plan. (And Romney's tax math was so bad even Fox news didn't buy it.) Paul Ryan admitted that he and Romney "haven't run the numbers" on their budget. Vagueness is probably the best possible strategy for the Romney campaign, for one simple reason: Mitt Romney can't afford to tell the truth about jobs.
If Mitt Romney told the truth about jobs, he'd have to admit that:
- the Romney/Ryan budget would boost unemployment, as cuts to public spending would mean 1.3 million fewer jobs next year and 2.8 million fewer the following year;
- the 12 million jobs he claimed his plan would create are jobs that will be created anyway, no matter who's in the White House;
- the three studies the Romney campaign said support Romney's plan actually do no such thing;
- government does indeed create jobs;
- tax cuts don't create jobs, and tax cuts don't lead to economic growth, because the rich don't spend their tax cuts;
- the auto-industry bailout saved jobs, may be responsible for GM adding 2,000 new jobs in Michigan, and even made Mitt Romney $15.3 million richer;
- the Romney/Ryan plan would reward companies to ship jobs overseas and dodge U.S. taxes.
Can you blame Mitt for not telling the truth about jobs? Instead of talking about his job plan (what there is of it), Romney's still touting his vulture capitalist experience at the helm of Bain Capital as his primary qualification for the presidency. Here he is in the second presidential debate:
“I know what it takes to create good jobs again. I know what it takes to make sure that you have the kind of opportunity you deserve. And kids across this country are going to recognize, we’re bringing back an economy.”
If Mitt Romney told the truth about "job creation" at Bain Capital, he'd admit that:
- job creation was never the point at Bain Capital;
- Bain bankrupted one fourth of the companies it invested in, leading to substantial job losses at companies like GS Industries, Dade International, American Pad and Paper, and Kansas City's GST;
- Bain produced about $2.5 billion in returns for shareholders, and Romney himself pocketed $190 to $250 million, even as workers at Bain's bankrupted holdings lost their jobs;
- he's still profiting from Bain's China ties and outsourcing business — to the tune of about $400,000 per week;
- the jobs he claims to have created while at Bain were low-wage jobs with no path to the middle class;
- his idea of "good jobs" is much closer to the kind of jobs he did invest in creating … in China;
All of this would seem to require more honesty than Mitt Romney appears to be capable of.
But, wait. Romney did come clean on the last item on the list, when he told funders (in a "quiet room," when he thought the help wasn't listening) about the "good jobs" he helped create in China.
Sound familiar? It should. As Dave pointed out earlier, Mitt Romney and Bain Capital pioneered the profitable practice of shipping American jobs overseas. Not only is Bain still in outsourcing business, this time shutting down the Sensata factory in Freeport, IL, and sending the jobs to China, but forcing workers to train their overseas replacements before being put out of a job. In another clip from the leaked video Romney described his days as a vulture capitalist and offshoring pioneer.
When I was back in my private equity days, we went to China to buy a factory there. It employed about 20,000 people. And they were almost all young women between the ages of about 18 and 22 or 23. They were saving for potentially becoming married.
And they work in these huge factories, they made various uh, small appliances. And uh, as we were walking through this facility, seeing them work, the number of hours they worked per day, the pittance they earned, living in dormitories with uh, with little bathrooms at the end of maybe 10, 10 room, rooms. And the rooms they have 12 girls per room.
Three bunk beds on top of each other. You've seen, you've seen them? (Oh…yeah, yeah!) And, and, and around this factory was a fence, a huge fence with barbed wire and guard towers. And, and, we said gosh! I can't believe that you, you know, keep these girls in! They said, no, no, no. This is to keep other people from coming in.
These are the labor conditions Romney and Bain were looking for to drive down costs. It's not clear if they actually followed through and bought this factory, but we know that moving jobs overseas was the business Romney and Bain were in. And Bain is still doing it, with the help of hefty investments from Romney. Right now, a group of workers in Illinois ispleading with Romney to keep their jobs at a company he's invested in from being sent to China.
Sensata workers had a different take, as you can imagine.
As you know, I'm losing my job to China. So I sat down with my coworkers at Sensata and we taped this response to Mitt Romney's video:
We're exactly the kind of workers Mitt Romney outsourced when he was at Bain Capital. And not only does he continue to profit from it -- recently leaked Bain files show Romney owns stock in Sensata right now -- he also created the business model that's going to cost us our jobs by the end of the year.
My job is a good job -- certainly not enough to make me rich, but I can support my family. But we've been told Bain Capital, which owns Sensata, is shipping our jobs by the end of the year. We've already been forced to train our replacements in China.
If you want to know what the Romney Economy is, just see what's happening to the people of Freeport, Illinois. It's not what I want for my future. Please share this video and get the word out if it's not what you want for yours.
Good jobs, like the jobs at Sensata — the kind that paid a "wage that meant middle class," — have almost completely disappeared after a long thirty-year "vanishing act", only to be "replaced" with far fewer, lower paying jobs that no path to upward mobility. Meanwhile, jobs were once considered good American jobs are transformed into what Mitt Romney considers "good jobs" in China — like the Sensata jobs Bain is outsourcing to China.
As we close in on Election Day, the questions about what Mitt Romney would do if elected grow even larger. Rarely before in American history has a candidate for president campaigned on such a blank slate.
Yet, paradoxically, not a day goes by that we don’t hear Romney, or some other exponent of the GOP, claim that businesses aren’t creating more jobs because they’re uncertain about the future. And the source of that uncertainty, they say, is President Obama — especially his Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the Dodd-Frank Act, and uncertainties surrounding Obama’s plan to raise taxes on the wealthy.
In fact, Romney has created far more uncertainty. He offers a virtual question mark of an economy
… In truth, Romney and the GOP have put a giant question mark over the future of the economy and of all Americans. The only way the future becomes more certain is if Obama wins on Election Day.
Reich has a point. President Obama has already proposed and presented detailed policies, whereas Mitt Romney may go down as the vaguest presidential candidate in history, partly because of his own "quirky" personality, and partly because Romney has strategized himself into a ideological corner — trapped what the GOP's right wing base wants, and what the rest of the country wants.
On the other hand, the Romney/Ryan policies aren't that much of a question mark. Behind the half truths and outright lies, is the worst of the past and the present. Romney's "five point plan" sounds like something George W. Bush would have endorsed in 2000, and we know how the the Bush era turned out — a "lost decade" of "zero job growth" for middle-class and working-class Americans, tax cuts that mostly benefited the wealthy, tax increases for low-income and middle-class Americans, and a deficit where there used to be a surplus.
We don't need to go back to 2000 to understand what Romney's policies mean here and now. As Nicholas Kristof writes, Romney's economic model is the same as the austerity agenda that's dragging down the EU.
Mitt Romney’s best argument on the campaign trail has been simple: Under President Obama, the American economy has remained excruciatingly weak, far underperforming the White House’s own projections.
That’s a fair criticism.
But Obama’s best response could be this: If you want to see how Romney’s economic policies would work out, take a look at Europe. And weep.
In the last few years, Germany and Britain, in particular, have implemented precisely the policies that Romney favors, and they have been richly praised by Republicans here as a result. Yet these days those economies seem, to use a German technical term, kaput.
Is Europe a fair comparison? Well, Republicans seem to think so, because they came up with it. In the last few years, they’ve repeatedly cited Republican-style austerity in places like Germany and Britain as a model for America.
We know how austerity is working out for Europe — desperation, despair, suicide, etc. Austerity policies have sparked revolts across Europe. Austerity is unpopular in Europe because it's not working. According to the IMF, austerity “lowers incomes in the short term, with wage-earners taking more of a hit than others; it also raises unemployment, particularly long-term unemployment” — all without lowering deficits.
Yes, in Monday night's presidential debate, Mitt Romney tried to claim that his budget policies are the only thing that can save us from European-style austerity.
In Monday night’s presidential debate, Mitt Romney echoed other Republican politicians, saying that under President Obama’s economic policies, the United States is “heading toward Greece.” Mr. Romney was invoking Greece apparently to make the point that deep and swift budget cuts are needed in the United States to avoid a debt crisis.
That bizarre comment, sadly, is no surprise in a campaign that has parted ways with the facts. The president’s budget, as scored by the Congressional Budget Office, would stabilize the ratio of federal debt to the economy over 10 years.
What is more disturbing is that the comment displays willful ignorance about the lessons of Greece, and such ignorance can only lead to bad policy decisions at home. The lesson that should be learned from Greece is that its fiscal mess has been made far worse by severe budget cuts.
Romney Economics is just more of the same austerity that's devastating Europe, and would be just as disastrous for America as it has for Europe.
That's what Mitt Romney would have to admit, if he told the truth about jobs. And it's precisely why Mitt Romney can't tell the truth about jobs.