Mitt Romney's campaign again put out a news release last week blasting President Barack Obama for presiding over a "net" loss in jobs during his first term. This metric is bogus, because it factors in the hundreds of thousands of jobs that the economy was hemorrhaging when Obama took office, before his policies took effect.
But this time, there's an intriguing twist in Romney's argument. In the same statement, his camp defends Romney's jobs record as governor of Massachusetts by pointing out … that Romney inherited a state economy that was hemorrhaging jobs when he took office.
"Governor Romney inherited an economy that was losing jobs each month and left office with an economy that was adding jobs each month," blares the release. "After taking office at a time when the state was losing thousands of jobs every month, Governor Romney's focus on fiscal responsibility helped create an environment where job growth returned to Massachusetts. Job growth increased throughout his term and the state added over 40,000 payroll jobs during his final year in office — the best year of job growth in Massachusetts over the past decade."
The Romney campaign is defending itself against the latest Democratic attack line – that Massachusetts ranked 47th out of 50 states in job creation — by pointing out that Romney should be judged by the job growth that happened after jobs losses were reversed, and even by the number of jobs added toward the end of his term.
This is precisely the argument that the Romney campaign dismisses when Obama makes it. Indeed, the same statement hits Obama for his "net negative record on job creation," which is true only if you factor in the jobs losses at the start of Obama's term.
If we were to apply to Obama the same standard that the Romney campaign wants applied to itself, Obama has created millions of jobs.
This is more than a "gotcha." The claim that "net" jobs were lost on Obama's watch is central to Romney's whole argument, and the Romney team has repeated it for months. But the new standard the Romney campaign wants applied to him — that the focus should be on jobs added after jobs losses were reversed — would seem to undercut this entire case.
© 2012 Washington Post