Mitt Romney raised eyebrows when he suggested last week that we don't need more teachers, firefighters, and police, and that we instead should be cutting down on government. This morning, a top Romney surrogate, former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu essentially doubled down on the line.
"Let me respond as a taxpayer, not as a representative of the Romney campaign," Sununu told msnbc's Chris Jansing. "There are municipalities, there are states where there is flight of population. And as the population goes down, you need fewer teachers."
That may be true in certain localities. But Romney was talking about a national policy. And on that score, as msnbc guest host Michael Eric Dyson pointed out Monday night, Sununu's argument doesn't hold up.
"By 2015, enrollment is projected to be nearly ten million students higher than it was at the beginning of the decade," Dyson noted. In other words, if anything, the United States needs a lot more teachers overall. Indeed, the recession has already led to the loss of as many as a quarter million teachers nationwide, a fact that Romney and Sununu failed to mention.
The Maddow Blog's Steve Benen notes that Romney's call for cutting down government and Sununu's call for less teachers are out of step with public attitudes, with an October 2011 poll finding that 75 percent of Americans supported providing federal funds for state governments to hire teachers.
"What Romney believes would 'help the American people' and the American people believe would help the American people are two very different things," writes Benen.