Four days after Mitt Romney endorsed layoffs of school teachers, police officers, and firefighters, the Republican and his campaign are struggling to keep their story straight.
The first sign of trouble came over the weekend, when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) distanced himself from Romney’s argument. The second stumble came yesterday when one Romney surrogate doubled down on the candidate’s argument, only to be contradicted a few hours later by a different surrogate who said Romney had been taken out of context.
This morning, Romney visited with “Fox & Friends” to try to put things right.
For those who can’t watch clips online, here’s what the former governor said, when asked about cutting teachers and first responders.
“Well, that’s a very strange accusation. Of course, teachers and firemen and policemen are hired at the local level and also by states. The federal government doesn’t pay for teachers, firefighters or policemen. So obviously that’s completely absurd.
“[Obama’s] got a new idea, though, and that is to have another stimulus and to have the federal government send money to try and bail out cities and states. It didn’t work the first time. It certainly wouldn’t work the second time.”
I have a sinking suspicion that Romney believes voters aren’t terribly bright.
The main problem with Romney’s new line is that it doesn’t make any sense. “The federal government doesn’t pay for teachers, firefighters or policemen”? Well, actually, the federal government can provide resources to states and municipalities to either hire new teachers and first responders, or prevent layoffs that would otherwise be made. If Washington would do this, we’d see an immediate drop in the unemployment rate, but Republicans refuse to even consider the idea.
What’s more, when Romney says President Obama’s “new idea … didn’t work the first time,” that’s the exact opposite of reality. Obama’s new idea isn’t exactly new – the last three Republican presidents strengthened the national economy through public-sector hiring – and it worked perfectly when Obama protected these jobs in 2009. Here’s a possible follow-up question for Romney: when you say public-sector hiring didn’t work the first time, what in the world are you talking about?
And finally, Romney’s position from Friday hasn’t changed. He sees President Obama fighting for school teachers, police officers, and firefighters, and Romney’s still convinced the economy will be better off if those teachers and first responders are unemployed.
That’s not “completely absurd”; that’s just Romney’s stated position.