Moving the economic goalposts

Updated
 
Moving the economic goalposts
Moving the economic goalposts
Associated Press

When it came to economic metrics and the 2012 campaign, Mitt Romney has struggled to pick a line and stick with it.

The initial line from Romney was that the unemployment rate is higher now than when President Obama took office. It was a foolish argument, which is no longer true.

The second line has been that the unemployment rate has been above 8% for four consecutive years. That’s a weak pitch – in FDR’s first term, the rate was above 17% for four consecutive years, too – and with the figure down to 8.1%, Romney’s at risk of losing his talking point.

So, it’s apparently time to move the goalposts once again.

“[A]nything near 8 percent or over 4 percent is not cause for celebration,” Romney said…. Earlier Friday, Romney said the economy should be adding half a million jobs a month, and blasted the jobs news as “terrible.”

“We should be seeing numbers in the [range of] 500,000 jobs created per month,” Romney told Fox News.

Remember, economic policy is supposed to be Romney’s strong point as a candidate.

Part of the problem here is with Romney’s wildly unrealistic benchmarks, which, if he’s elected, he’ll be unable to reach. Indeed, in the event of a Romney presidency, he just helped create the 2016 attack ads – 500,000 jobs per month and 4% unemployment is the new standard for success.

But the other concern here is historical – over the last three decades, the unemployment rate has dipped below 4% just four times out of 496 months. Each of those four months was during Bill Clinton’s presidency.

In other words, Romney’s goal was achieved, but only after a Democratic president raised taxes in 1993.

What’s more, as Paul Krugman explained, “Incidentally, since Romney is proposing a complete return to Bush economic policies, it might be interesting to note the average rate of job creation during Bush’s first 7 years in the White House – that is, his record even if you ignore the catastrophe at the end. And that average monthly rate, from the BLS, was … drum roll … 66,000.”

Bush’s pre-crash average was roughly half of last month’s job totals – totals Romney described as “terrible.”

I can’t wait to see where the goalposts end up next.

Mitt Romney

Moving the economic goalposts

Updated