Mitt Romney’s effort to disguise one of his biggest political liabilities has hit a major snag — one that may force him to abandon his most effective but misleading talking points about his work in the private sector..
Romney makes two different, but implicitly entwined claims: That while working in corporate management he created over 100,000 jobs and that — by comparison — Obama his presided over millions of job losses.
This is a false juxtaposition, based on two false claims. And so far, precious few reporters have pressed Romney or his campaign about it. But in the past several days, the veneer of plausibility has begun to peel leaving the candidate highly exposed to backlash from the press.
Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent, and Washington Monthly blogger Steve Benen have been Romney’s (and the press’) most consistent critics on this issue. After bringing it to light, Post fact checker Glenn Kessler buttonholed a Romney spokesman about the first claim — and found it to be unsubstantiated. It’s true only if you don’t count Romney-managed companies that later hemorrhaged jobs.
According to Kessler, Romney’s camp claims, “the 100,000 figure stems from the growth in jobs from three companies that Romney helped to start or grow while at Bain Capital: Staples (a gain of 89,000 jobs), The Sports Authority (15,000 jobs), and Domino’s (7,900 jobs).”
But these figures, obviously, do not account for job losses at other companies Romney managed, and they reflect those companies’ current sizes — not the amount they grew while Romney worked at Bain.
Democrats and Democrat-aligned groups have done their best to keep Romney from obscuring the fact that his private sector success came as a result of his work as a corporate downsizer — distributing ads and stories about people who lost their jobs when their companies underwent Romney’s restructuring.
All that chips away at the facade of Romney The Job Creator. But then there’s the image he erects of Obama The Job Killer.
It’s absurd to compare the economic records of a private equity fund manager and the President of the United States, but that’s what Romney’s asking voters to do. Except that while he only touts the jobs he supposedly created — to the exclusion of the jobs he eliminated — he suggests to voters that Obama is responsible for all the job losses that have occurred since he took office in January 2009, several weeks before the stimulus kicked in, when the economy was in mid free fall.
Paul Krugman provided a helpful graph to illustrate the absurdity of Romney’s standard.
So again, it’s a double standard (Romney’s gross jobs created vs. Obama’s net jobs lost) that’s drawn from a rigged time line. Question is how long can he get away with it.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.