The scary thing is that in three hours I could write a 1,000-word study with tables and charts projecting that the Romney plan will generate 12 million jobs before 2017.
It’s trivially easy to do:
- Project labor force growth over 2000-2008 forward–thus you have already baked the retirement of the baby boomers into your projections.
- Estimate the full-employment level of the unemployment rate at its 5% average 1993-2007 value.
- Commit President Romney’s administration to fiscal, monetary, and financial policies to support a return to full employment within four years.
And you get a projection of 15 million new jobs over the next four years.
Then you be prudent, and say that you are not confident the economy can recover from more than 80% of the burden of the downturn, and you are at 12 million.
Now I would not make such a projection–I don’t think we are going to get even 80% of the way back to a 2000-2008 labor force trend growth definition of “full employment” over the next four years. I don’t see the policies that would produce such an outcome being implemented.
But at some point the Romney campaign sat down and said “we are going to commit the candidate to policies that ail produce a strong recovery. How strong a recovery can we reasonably claim these policies would produce?” And then they should have gone and asked somebody to write up a study that did some projections so that they would know.
But they never asked anybody to write the study…
Can’t any Republicans play this game?
Greg Sargent has been harping on this for a while–that the Romney jobs claims are fake. I have been putting the clippings to one side, because while they are fake they do not have to be fake: a net employment gain of 12 million over the next four years is within the bounds of possibility. By contrast, the Romney tax claims have to be phony by their nature and the nature of arithmetic…
Romney’s facts are curious things: Mitt Romney has done a heckuva job with his jobs plan. At Tuesday night’s town-hall debate, the Republican presidential nominee replied with confidence when 20-year-old student Jeremy Epstein asked the candidates for reassurance that he’d be able to find work after graduation.
“I put out a five-point plan that gets America 12 million new jobs in four years,” Romney said. “It’s going to help Jeremy get a job when he comes out of school.” The candidate’s statement, a version of a claim he has made for months on the stump and in a new ad, was bold, precise — and baseless.
Hours earlier, my Washington Post colleague Glenn Kessler had reported that the source the Romney campaign provided for the jobs figure was a trio of studies that either didn’t directly analyze Romney’s policies or were based on longer time horizons than four years. Top Romney economist Glenn Hubbard acknowledged to Kessler that the three studies did “not make up the 12 million jobs in the first four years,” and the Romney campaign issued a statement minutes before the debate that expanded the jobs time frame to “the next four years and beyond.” But the claim, though discredited, had become a key part of Romney’s message — and he went right ahead and repeated the falsehood during the debate.
Much of the burgeoning fact-check function in the news media is subjective; Romney’s tax-cut claims, for example, are impossible to assess with certainty because he doesn’t say what deductions he would disallow and what other assumptions he makes. But the jobs claim is black and white: the evidence the Romney campaign furnished to support the claim did not do so.
It indicates a degree of administrative incompetence that makes me think that somebody else must have made the trains run on time at Bain…
Cross-posted from Brad DeLong’s blog Grasping Reality with Both Invisible Hands.