Romney’s 12 Million Jobs: How to Lie While Telling the Truth

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Brooks Kraft / Corbis for TIME

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan campaign in Lancaster, Ohio, on Oct. 12, 2012

Mitt Romney’s pledge to create 12 million jobs is a cardboard cutout of a campaign promise. It looks great, even bold, from one angle, but there’s really not much behind it. As this publication and others have explained, economic forecasters of all stripes already expect the economy to add roughly that number of jobs from 2013 to 2017.

In case you need a refresher: Assuming a very rough estimate of 1 million new jobs per 1% increase in economic growth, the Fed’s September forecast had the economy adding 5.5 million to 6.8 million jobs in 2013 and 2014, with the pace quickening in the following years. Moody’s Analytics’ August forecast was slightly sunnier but in the same range. So Romney’s pledge to create 12 million jobs in four years is on the conservative end of the spectrum. More important, that predictive spectrum is based on current policy. In other words, Romney is pledging to preserve the economic status quo.

There’s nothing so terrible about Romney’s making this promise. It’s slightly misleading, but it’s a candidate’s job to sell his campaign, and 12 million jobs sounds great. Since it’s expected to happen under current policy, Obama could have beaten Romney to the punch by broadcasting the fact — also technically true — that forecasters are saying all these jobs will be created under the President’s current plan. But Obama’s never said that, so “12 million jobs” remains an exclusively Republican mantra. Obama’s loss.

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That doesn’t give Romney license to abuse the figure, though, which is exactly what he did in a recent ad. Whereas he once said that “we put [my policies] in place and we’ll add 12 million jobs in four years” — a neat trick of rhetorical proximity without any definitive claim of causation — Romney drops the pretense in a new TV spot. “Let me tell you how I’ll create 12 million jobs when President Obama couldn’t,” Romney says.

You can plausibly interpret this statement in two different ways. One is that Obama can’t create 12 million jobs in the next four years: impossible to disprove, but not entirely fair, considering that economists expect it to happen. The other interpretation is that Romney would have created 12 million jobs had he been elected in 2008, an utterly fantastical claim I doubt the Romney campaign intended. Any other comparison — matching Obama’s first term in the depths of a recession to a Romney first term at the outset of a recovery — is, as Romney might say, apples to oranges.

The rest of the ad is worse. Glenn Kessler does the yeoman’s work of tracking down the sources of each bullet point in Romney’s presentation and exposes the spurious math: double counting, elastic timelines that stretch out as far as a decade, and so on.  But one of the notable things about Romney’s “12 million jobs” pledge and its accompanying claims is that none of them are lies. As Michael Scherer wrote in his recent cover story, disincentives for campaign prevarications are sorely lacking, but a historic fact-checking effort is under way to mitigate the damage. And for all the frustration over the media’s inability to declare a lie leader and their tendency to declare statements “half true,” these are reasonable responses to candidates who have learned to campaign on deeply misleading claims without stepping into outright falsehood.

74 comments
womenspk
womenspk

Mitt Romney who outsourced so many jobs and then had the audacity to turn around and call this a JOBS ELECTION.  There's the GOP in its' entirety-not accepting responsibility for what's gone wrong and then turning around and acting as thought they have all the answers. 

JorgeJohnson
JorgeJohnson

Romney's more ridiculous claim is that governments don't create jobs, yet he was seeking a government job in order to create jobs.

Now that he will not be in government, Romney can get on with the business of creating 12 million jobs.

curt3rd
curt3rd

I will cut the deficit in half in my first 3 years as president or I will be a 1 term president.  How to lie while lying.  Hopefully he is not lying

superlogi
superlogi

JohnYuEsq Romney is a sociopath? Enough said with regard to anything you have to say.  Good god, TIME, what is it you want to say to save your publication.  The fact is, you're not reporting the news is what got you where you are today.  Keep up the outstanding work.  But here's a fact, even a non-journalist with minimal business background could save your publication without the attending ideology.  Too bad, you might have made it.

superlogi
superlogi like.author.displayName 1 Like

First of all, how can a prognostication be a lie.  I guess it is only if it's done by a Republican.  Second of all, Romney gets to the 12 million a lot differently than Moody does, as if their predictions are sacrosanct.  The point is, how can you fact check something which hasn't happened yet?

JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

GREEDY, SOCIOPATH Romney MADE-OFF like MADOFF and ENRON. 

 SAVE the American Middle and Working Class. 

 VOTE the DEMOCRATIC TICKET.

Nickie Kalla
Nickie Kalla

In one breath Romney proclaims "My five point plan will create 12 million jobs!"  Then in the very next breath states with overblown hyperkenitic authority "Goverment can't create jobs!"  Then forgetting what he said, because he stands by what he said no matter what it is even if he can't remember it, blasts Obama for not creating enough jobs!  What an idiot!

superlogi
superlogi

@Nickie Kalla His plan doesn't call for government to create jobs.  In fact, he would actually reduce government jobs with his policies.  His plan calls for government to get out of the way of job creation.  But then, most progressive liberals hear but don't listen and have an inherent problem with being able to count.

Samuel Yap
Samuel Yap

The winner of this Presidential race will be quite a lucky guy. He will inherit the boon that the policies taken by Pres. Obama produced, including the 12 M jobs, promised ("predicted"would be more accurate) by Romney. And of course, if Romney wins, he will credit it to his new policies, which are all in opposition to Obama's, which brought about this increase in the first place.  See the double talk of Romney?

Marcus Taylor
Marcus Taylor

I believe the consensus is ... no matter what, there will be a total of 12 million jobs created ... NO MATTER WHO IS PRESIDENT! But President Obama started the coming economic engine.

dirkbill
dirkbill like.author.displayName 1 Like

In that same ad he claims that reducing tax rates will create 7 million jobs, which is over 50% of those 12 million jobs he's planning on. Really? How does that work exactly? And if his plan doesn't work out, then what? Why doesn't he ask Rick Scott in Florida how that kind of "promise" thing is working out?

AlbertaEllisPeek
AlbertaEllisPeek

@dirkbill I think he did.. that is how he got the numbers! I'd like to know who is going to pay for the training for these jobs. He said one day he would cut teachers then the next he said he wouldn't. Are employers going to pay for all the training? What are the skills required for all these jobs. My projection.... he's Full Of Sht! The only thing he will create is more tax breaks for corporations to ship jobs overseas.. get richer and then bail on the Middle Class! Restore Bush economics and leave us in a bigger state than Bush did! 

1adfk2
1adfk2 like.author.displayName 1 Like

Really, the thought of this hairpiece with any kind of power outside of corporate raider america makes me want to vomit. No different than that idiot George W.

gideon17
gideon17 like.author.displayName 1 Like

Would American women elect a president (Romney) in spite of all that would happen to them if Republican wins the White House? Is anybody telling them that Roe vs Wade will be defeated, and all the gains that women have made for the past 50 years would be gone, just because they do not want a black man as president? I'm still shocked that this race is close. If Obama were to be white with his current policy, I can bet that he would have won a landslide. Romney won't even be close. I just hope that Romney does not win. He will be riding on Obama's success!

AlbertaEllisPeek
AlbertaEllisPeek

@gideon17 Yep... they've been told. They are on deaf ears. I think he has them mesmerized or something! It's crazy to think that reproductive health isn't important. PA just introduced a bill cutting welfare for women unless they can PROVE they was raped! I guess we better make sure our phones are all equipped with cameras just in case we are raped! Sad.. they don't want her to abort the child and they don't want to  help her financially with raising the child! Sick as all get out! Sounds like utter abandonment.  I read a woman screaming why should she support free contraceptive. Ignorance is running rampant among women with they have double blinders on! 

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

Is there anything Romney has claimed that actually stands up to outside scrutiny?

HudsonValleyTim
HudsonValleyTim

This just in:  ROMNEY DECLARES HIS HAIR TO BE THE 8th WONDER OF THE WORLD!

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

If Mitt Romney is such a seer when it comes to predicting things, you'd think he could have predicted that his attempts at the Oval Office for the past eight years wouldn't have come to fruition.  Then again, maybe he's just that bad of a candidate and he needed to ingratiate himself into our systems.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B like.author.displayName 1 Like

I keep wondering with all the practice, why it took so long for him to appear better.

The only answer I come up with is the constant whooping of the media that he was a WINNER of the first debate and OMG the polls are rising in his favor. When the polls were in favor of Obama for all those months, it was just a ho-hum story.

Anyway, Mitt was practicing for that debate since August and he has been running for president, doing nothing else, for seven years. If his learning curve is that long, Grover Norquist truly will be running the country.

fmarc
fmarc

Mainstream Obamidolater media at its best. Semantical analysis for every Republican line, while Democrat get away with the most blatant hyperboles and approximations. I didn't write "lies" because this word has been so overused by the negative Democrat campaign that I think we are all sick of it.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Fortunately we can count on totally unbiased people like you to tell us how to think, right?

HudsonValleyTim
HudsonValleyTim

Hey Everyone!!!!

The trolls are here!  Now it's a REAL party!

grape_crush
grape_crush

This just in: Mitt Romney promises that the new year will begin on January 1, 2013.

Marcus Taylor
Marcus Taylor

That's good enough for me ... "Mitt" is our man, he's got my vote. Huh?

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

This just in: Mitt Romney takes credit for inventing Al Gore.

grape_crush
grape_crush

This just in: Mitt Romney will ask Congress to declare war on Japan as a response to the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

cent_fan
cent_fan

And the House will start impeachment proceedings on FDR.

Sue_N.
Sue_N.

And in a followup, his campaign walked back his statement that he will declare war, explaining that his words were taken out of context.

"Mr. Romney has never stated definitively whether he will or will not declare war," said senior Romney advisor Eric Fehrnstrom. "His position is still evolving. However, he remains very clear that he does not agree with President Obama's continuing appeasement of Japan."

Mr. Fehrnstrom also denied that the Romney has taken to consulting a Magic 8 Ball before shaking the Etch-a-Sketch.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

I really wish there were some way for Obama to say that they shouldn't pay attention to that new moderate sounding position that Mitt just took, right after the debate, his staff will walk it back.

Sue_N.
Sue_N.

There are many, many things I wish Obama would say. Some of them are even printable. ;)

The Romney workout: Walking 10 miles a day, all of it backwards.

filmnoia
filmnoia like.author.displayName 1 Like

This thread has been open for about an hour. Where are all the Reich Wingers defending Willard's job  and tax plan? Oh, yeah, that's right. He doesn't need to tell the truth. All that is important is that he's white and was born in the US. That's been his sub rosa campaign all along.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Whenever we press them about the fact that they (Romney/Ryan) never release any details short of "Trust us, we're not Obama", they always change the subject.  Don't ever expect to have a serious discussion about taxes or the economy with them that doesn't revolve around the unemployment rate - I guess this article hits too close to home with that.

NP042
NP042

"Whenever we press them about [details], they always change the subject."

FTFY

filmnoia
filmnoia

Perhaps. However, once they get their Fox and RNC talking points they will come back. For once, maybe they can speak for themselves, instead of linking to Reich Wing propaganda.

On the news front, the SC has refused to listen to the appeal against early voting by the state of Ohio. This means that the GOP will have to try to find another form of voter suppression.

HudsonValleyTim
HudsonValleyTim

"How to lie while telling the truth" could be a chapter from one of Mitt's books.  Other chapters:

 - How to lie while having a debate

 - How to lie while making a stump speech

 - How to lie to the press

 - How to lie about not meaning to say 47%

Seriously, this guy wrote the book.  The Repubs used to call Clinton "Slick Willie".  It seems we now have "Slicker Willard"

gysgt213
gysgt213

How to get the media to overlook your lies because reporting them is too much work.

gysgt213
gysgt213

You can plausibly interpret this statement in two different ways:

 Here is a 3rd way. He is lying.  By the way is not true every thing every single thing that happens is an Obama loss?  So why constantly point that out no matter the subject matter.

grape_crush
grape_crush

This just in: Mitt Romney promises to discover the North American continent.

HudsonValleyTim
HudsonValleyTim

Now I know that you're making this stuff up.  I'm pretty sure that he couldn't find his @ss with both hands.

sacredh
sacredh

Maybe if he sniffed his fingers? Just askin'.

AfGuyReturns
AfGuyReturns

Too much information.... and material for further postings.

sacredh
sacredh

He wouldn't have given the native Americans as many beads and blankets for Manhattan either.

grape_crush
grape_crush

This just in: Mitt Romney takes credit for the next full moon that appears in the sky.

bobell
bobell

This just in: Mitt Romney will make Barack Obama show up for tonight's debate.