In his biggest flip-flop yet, Mitt Romney exposes the lie Republicans have banked on to retake the White House. In a 2004 video (that blows the 2007 “angry” Obama video out of the water), Romney asserts that slow economic and job growth is a result of complex external factors, and cannot realistically be blamed on the incumbent (President George W. Bush).
The video, where Romney campaigns for Bush’s reelection, speaks for itself. (But don’t miss the enlightening data that follows the clip).
Reporter: Since January 2001, Massachusetts has lost as many jobs as Ohio, a much larger state. With a record like that, why would economically anxious Massachusetts residents vote for another four years [for Bush/Cheney]?
Romney: Uh – Pretty simply this. The people of America recognize that the slowdown in jobs that occurred during the early years of the Bush Administration were the result of a perfect storm. And an effort by [challenger John Kerry] to somehow say, “Oh, this recession, and the slowdown in jobs was the result of somehow this president [Bush] magically being elected – people in America just dismiss that as being poppycock.
They recognize that September 11, 2001 had a very significant impact on our economy and on jobs in this economy. To pretend that it doesn’t is just silliness. [Applause] They also recognize that…there was a cyclic recession that rebounded from the extravagance of the period that existed prior to that time, where we had irrational exuberance…and we had a downturn. They also recognize that the internet bubble burst. These things came together creating a perfect storm that meant a huge loss.
Insert “housing bubble” for “internet bubble,” and inhale the irony.
Romney: Now, the question then is, what did the president [Bush] do to restoke the economy? And he passed an across-the-board tax cut that affected families that had children, that affected working families, that affected people across our economy, with the idea that this tax cut and his economic policies would rebuild our economy.
Okay, sounds a lot like Obama’s stimulus package…But the difference is we already know that Bush’s policies didn’t rebuild our economy. Instead, Bush left office in the midst of the deepest and most painful recession the nation has experienced since the 1930s. Bush’s administration also saw income inequality accelerate rapidly, which, admittedly, hasn’t slowed in recent years.
The really interesting nugget is when you compare economic growth under Bush and Obama, the results are nearly identical (and Bush even has the advantage of looking at a longer term in office). The average annual real GDP growth under eight years of George W. Bush was just 2.04% (a statistic Jay Bookman posted and I verified with World Bank data.) If you throw out Bush’s worst recession year (2008), he still only averaged 2.39% real GDP growth from 2001-2007.
While the economy was in a tailspin in Obama’s first year in office (-3.5% GDP growth), the Obama administration has produced an average annualized rate of GDP growth of 2.12% from Q1 2010 through Q2 2012, right on par with what Bush was able to produce, and Bush didn’t start his term with a major global recession.
Romney: Every indication is that the economic policies adopted and pursued by this president are creating jobs at a very high pace, and so the people of America have to ask: “Do you want to stay with the president who is rebuilding the economy, who is creating jobs, or do you want to stop midstream and find someone new?”… This is a president who is doing that, who is creating jobs, overcoming one of the worst, if you will, convergences of an internet bubble burst, of a terrorist attack and the cyclical downturn that we’ve seen.
Well, if you look at the numbers, the Obama administration can correctly claim credit for creating more private sector jobs from 2010-2012 than the Bush administration netted in 7 years. Critics say those numbers are massaged because they don’t account for Obama’s public sector job losses (very much the result of GOP “austerity” budgets that laid off state and federal workers).
Even when looking at the data in the below graph that FactCheck.org claims is more balanced, there’s still no denying that Obama’s private sector job growth record slightly outpaces Bush’s. Regarding the gap in public sector jobs (right), Obama deserves no more fault than the Republicans who have obstructed every public sector job recovery effort from the American Jobs Act to the Veterans Jobs Bill.
While “at least as good as Bush” isn’t necessarily a slogan to win a campaign on, the economic reality proves that Romney and Republicans are wolves in sheep’s clothing when they say “We can’t afford four more years.” By any objective measure, Obama has done a decent job at salvaging the economic wreck he inherited, comparable with the last Republican president — and perhaps even better, when adjusting for other factors.
Gripes the American people have about low wages, slashed government budgets, and outsourcing of American jobs are better addressed to 310 1st Street Southeast, Washington, DC 20003, the headquarters of the Republican National Committee, or to your local voting booth on Nov. 6.