Political Animal


June 24, 2011 12:35 PM The jobs issue is Romney’s weakest issue

By Steve Benen

The Romney campaign has a new web ad that’s making the rounds — it may even appear atop this very website right now — showing a long line of people waiting in an unemployment line. The headline above the image, in all caps, reads, “Obama Isn’t Working.”

As it turns out, the image is three decades old. As Dave Weigel noted, this was copied, intentionally, from an ad run by the UK’s Conservative Party against the incumbent Labour Party in 1979.

As an aside, it’s worth noting that Romney’s preoccupation with Europe is getting a little odd. Romney is raising money in Europe; he’s using European advertising as his own; he wants to use Europe as a model for energy policy; and then he complains that President Obama seems “awfully European.” Strange.

In any case, Romney should also be aware of the fact that the more his campaign focuses on employment, the more Romney leads with his chin. Put simply, the jobs issue is Romney’s weakest issue.

The more he pushes this, the more the public should be reminded of Romney’s atrocious record.

“You see, Romney made a Mittload of cash using what’s known as a leveraged buyout. He’d buy a company with ‘money borrowed against their assets, groomed them to be sold off and in the interim collect huge management fees.’ Once Mitt had control of the company, he’d cut frivolous spending like ‘jobs,’ ‘workers,’ ‘employees,’ and ‘jobs.’ […]

“Because Mitt Romney knows just how to trim the fat. He rescued businesses like Dade Behring, Stage Stories, American Pad and Paper, and GS Industries, then his company sold them for a profit of $578 million after which all of those firms declared bankruptcy. Which sounds bad, but don’t worry, almost no one worked there anymore.

“Besides, a businessman can’t be weighed down with a bleeding heart. As one former Bain employee put it, ‘It was very clinical…. Like a doctor. When the patient is dead, you just move on to the next patient.’”

Romney slashed American jobs as if his career depended on it — and it did. Indeed, it’s tempting to wonder how many of those folks in Romney’s new web ad, waiting in the unemployment line, were put there by Romney’s hedge fund?

Complicating matters, during Romney’s only service in public office, his state’s record on job creation was “one of the worst in the country.” Adding insult to injury, “By the end of his four years in office, Massachusetts had squeezed out a net gain in payroll jobs of just 1 percent, compared with job growth of 5.3 percent for the nation as a whole.”

How bad is Romney’s record? During his tenure, Massachusetts ranked 47th out of 50 states in jobs growth.

Romney seems to think this is a winning issue for him. He’s mistaken.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


  • Cathie from Canada on June 24, 2011 12:42 PM:

    The problem here is this: it isn't Romney's record that is important right now, it's Obama's record.
    And its pretty clear that Republicans are deliberately trying to keep people unemployed because they think they can ride this public anger into the White House again. Obama better start dealing with this issue right quick -- he can't create any government or public works jobs unless he can get around Congress somehow, but at least he can talk about how important this is, how he feels people's pain, etc etc.

  • c u n d gulag on June 24, 2011 12:44 PM:

    So, what you're saying is that "Fill-in the Blank Mitt" shouldn't put "jobs" down where it says "I'm a great creator of ______________________."

    That it should say, what, "I'm a great creator of 'unemployed people'?"

  • c u n d gulag on June 24, 2011 12:47 PM:

    Cathie from Canada,
    Adopt me!
    I'm BEGGING YOU!!!

    CAPTCHA even has a suggestion, I kid thee not - 'sellme about.'
    If you did, you wouldn't get much...

  • bob h on June 24, 2011 12:52 PM:

    "Put simply, the jobs issue is Romney’s weakest issue."

    If he is going to elevate this to the status of a great "moral tragedy", then extra examination of his remedies will be called for. Catatonic repetition of items from the standard Republican catechism will not do. And he has no remedies that are consistent with Republican dogma.

    (I'm inclined to interpret the Obama oil release from the reserves, which everybody seems to be jumping on, as a cost-free way to provide some extra stimulus. In fact, doesn't it lower the deficit?)

  • slappy magoo on June 24, 2011 12:54 PM:

    Romeny's argument doesn't need to be factual accurate.
    It just needs to be made.
    The GOP and the media will make it fact one way or another.

  • DAY on June 24, 2011 12:54 PM:

    The Mittster's record is irrelevant: He's a Republican and it is HIS TURN!

  • emjayay on June 24, 2011 1:36 PM:

    Phoebe: Traditionaly, "socialism" means the government ownership of the means of production. In its most extreme, the Soviet Union, although the one-party totalitarian thing doesn't theoretically have to go with the socialism. In a less extreme form, England or France after WWII with state owned major enterprises, and National Health in England, where the government owns the whole system.

    In its more modern looser definition, socialism seems to mean just about anything the government does involving support of people, like any kind of national health care or pensions on a national basis. Or even more broadly, any regulations like EPA or OSHA or labor laws that are national and meant to protect people's health or life. Or the federal government giving incentives to green technology for example.

    Or to TeaBaggers, anything the government does, particularly anything aimed at people that they think don't deserve it. Rich people, by the way, seem to deserve everything they get.

    That was off the top of my head without consulting a dictionary or anything, so don't be too harsh, OK people....

  • bdop4 on June 24, 2011 1:46 PM:

    emjayay - i think that's a pretty good "off the cuff" description of socialism and the current warped context in which it is demonized.

    I see myself as a Social Democrat in the mold of Bernie Sanders. When there is a compelling public interest, it is better to have the government act in the public interest as there is no conflict with the Profit Motive.

    For example, Single Payer isn't socialism as it controls the distribution of payments, not the actual rendering of services. Why any business (other than the healthcare insurance industry) would not want single payer is beyond me. SP would eliminate a good chunk of their operating costs and they would ultimately pay less for the services.

  • j on June 24, 2011 1:59 PM:

    Mitt Romney suffers from delusions of grandeur, I read yesterday that he was evaluating candidates for his Vice President. Do you remember in the )* elections when the country was begging for
    young men to join the military & Mittens was asked about his 5 grown up sons - he said they had much more important things to do - getting him elected! I cannot stand this arrogant man.

  • taritac on June 24, 2011 2:07 PM:

    This issue isn't necessarily a loser for Romney. Massachusetts already had 4 or 5% employment during his tenure which is considered full employment. There weren't any more jobs to get! Sure he can't claim that he created a bunch of jobs, but he sure can say that unemployment was low while he was in office. Owning a business gives him (undeserved) credit for being a "job creator" even if his business service was firing people. I just don't think this particular line of attack is going to be very effective for Pres. Obama.

  • worcestergirl on June 24, 2011 2:41 PM:

    Romney's terrible job record should be an issue for him, but I doubt that Obama will go there. After all, Washington elite will go into a swoon if he dares to be soooooo uncivil as to bring up historical facts.

  • Greg on June 30, 2011 5:58 PM:

    [Gee, Greg. Color us surprised that you couldn't prove your absurd, wishful-thinking assertions, and we gave you an extra fifteen minutes. Your comment has been removed because it was a blatant lie. -- Mods]