Romney: No jobs growth in Obama’s second try
In a interview aired Sept. 9 with the host of NBC program “Meet the Press,” GOP presidential hopeful W. Mitt Romney asserted his conservatism, empathy for Americans suffering and rejected the notion President Barack Obama will help those out of work.
“I am a Constitutional Conservative,” Romney said to MTP host David Gregory in an two-segment interview that took place on the candidate’s campaign bus and his campaign headquarters on the waterfront of Boston’s North End neighborhood.
Gregory was hostile and flippant to Romney, but the former Bay State governor kept his cool, even after the former White House correspondent pulled out of an inside jacket pocket a “Bin Laden is Dead and GM is Alive” bumper sticker, teased him about Clint Eastwood and reminded him that each of his parents lost elections—asking how he was preparing to handle losing to Obama.
Romney said he is committed to the pro-life agenda and in addition to reversing Obama policies, such as using Treasury funds to pay for abortions overseas, he would appoint pro-life justices to the Supreme Court, who would reverse Roe v. Wade and return the issue of abortion legality back to the states.
Health care reform is an area where he will not be as radical as advertised, Romney said.
Romney’s “Repeal and Replace” will keep features in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, such as protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions and the ability of families to include young adult children on their plans, he said. These two features were part of his own health care reform in Massachusetts.
“I am not getting rid of all health care reform,” he said. “There are a number of things in I like in healthcare reform.”
In what must be a preview of Obama’s attack plan for the upcoming debates, Gregory pressed Romney on the economy, jobs and the deficit.
The underpinnings of the American economy are strong, the stock market is rallying, and yet there are not yet good jobs numbers, Gregory said. “What do you think is going on?”
“Nothing. It is a jobless recovery,” Romney said.
“If it’s a recovery at all—it really doesn’t look like a recovery,” he said. “You’re not seeing the type of job growth that keeps up with population growth. You’re not seeing any wage growth, so it is not at all what a recovery is supposed to look like.”
Usually when there is a deep downturn there is sharper rebound, he said.
“It really is not the kind of recovery people had expected,” Romney said.
“It’s now been, how many months? 43 months with unemployment above eight percent? And this last month, what was surprising to me was not only the anemic jobs growth, but that three or four times as many people dropped out of the labor force as were added as net new jobs,” he said.
“This is really saying that people are having a hard time finding work,” he said.
Romney said he was not surprised that the stock market was rallying because with interest rates held low and businesses unwilling to invest in hiring new workers, there is no other place for money to go. “Investors have to go somewhere to protect against inflation.”
Romney has already put out that he will replace Ben S. Bernanke as the chairman of the Federal Reserve, so it was not a surprise that he puts little hope in the Fed’s ability to move the needle. “I don’t think easing monetary policy is going to make a significant difference in the job market right now,” he said. “What the nation needs is a change in fiscal policy.”
With structural changes in how the federal government collects and spends money, the economy will come roaring back, he said.
Romney said his approach to tax reform would be revenue neutral, but by broadening the tax base and eliminating tax loopholes enjoyed by top earners, the government can lower the tax rates.
Lower tax rates will encourage Americans to start and expand small businesses, he said.
“There are many entrepreneurs, as well as major corporations that are ready to jump, but they are hoping to see the kind of conditions on the ground,” he said.
If there are pro-growth policies in place, the private market will expand again, he said.
This was too much for Gregory to take.
Romney promised his plan would create 12 million jobs in his first term, the Meet the Press host said.
But, Gregory has seen independent reports predicting 12 million jobs will be created in the economy under current conditions, he said.
Gregory was channeling Matt Laurer, the host of his network’s “TODAY” program, who Friday made the same point.
Both men were relying on statements by the Mark Zandi, the chief economist for Moody’s Analytics.
Who is Zandi?
Zandi, who like White House matron Valerie Jarrett was born in Iran, is the same economist who endorsed the Obama jobs plans, housing plans and predicted that the American Recovery Act would create 3.6 million jobs.
Following up on Laurer, Gregory challenged Romney.
“Doesn’t that suggest that the president and his team have laid a foundation for that kind of growth to occur?” he asked.
Romney said he did not see what Gregory saw.
“Actually, the president has kept in place a series of policies that have made no progress against unemployment and a shrinking job market,” he said.
“The number of people in the job market today is a 30 or 40-year low,” he said. “If this president is reelected, you’re going to see chronic high unemployment continue another four years, or longer. You’re going to see low wage growth, if any growth at all, and of course, there’ll also be this fiscal calamity at our doorstep,” he said. “A crisis potential at our doorstep, like the kind you are seeing in Europe today.”
“There is no question in my mind, if President Obama is reelected, you’re not going to see our employment picture change dramatically,” he said.