Thursday, May 24, 2012

Romney on Unemployment: 2, 4, 6, 8 – Who Do Appreciate?

CNN has a good story on all the fuss about the latest from the GOP Presidential candidate on unemployment:
"I can tell you that over a period of four years, by virtue of the policies that we'd put in place, we'd get the unemployment rate down to 6%, and perhaps a little lower," the presumptive GOP nominee told the magazine. The number marked the first time Romney had talked about a specific rate during this election cycle, although he listed 5.9% as the number he would strive for in his 59-point economic plan released in September. Economic forecasts suggest Romney may not be too far off in his prediction. Based on the current rate of growth, the jobless rate is expected to fall to around 7% by the end of 2015 and 5.5% by the end of 2017, according to reports by the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office. In a conference call Wednesday, Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt pointed to those predictions in criticizing Romney's statement. "Government economists have been clear that under current law their projection today is that unemployment will hit 6% by that point," LaBolt said. He went on to cite recent remarks in which Romney, chiding the president for his job creation record, said any unemployment figure above 4% was not worth celebrating.
To their credit – even Republican leaning economists were critical of any claim we could get the unemployment rate down to 4% by the end of 2016 but why retreat to a goal of 6% unemployment when even the CBO is forecasting we’d get close to 5.5% by then. CBO seems to be saying: (a) that the GDP gap won’t fully close until the end of the decade; and (b) that the unemployment rate will be north of 5% when it does close. So is Mr. Romney promising to do worse than what is expected under current policy? Given the state of the economy and our dismal fiscal policy which is akin to doing nothing, I could almost vote for a Republican who decided to both promise a more vigorous return to full employment and put forth a credible plan to get there. CNN outlines what Mr. Romney claims is his plan:
"Well, there are a number of things," Romney said on Fox News. "You start off by saying, let's stop something that's hurting small business from creating jobs and that's 'Obamacare.' Get rid of it. No. 2, have an energy strategy that takes advantage of our natural gas and oil and coal, as well as our renewables. Those low cost energy fuels will ultimately mean jobs come back here, even manufacturing jobs that left here. And finally, get a handle on the deficit so that people understand if they invest in America, their dollars will be worth something in the future."
#1 is a return to a failed health care system and #2 is continued reliance on fossil fuels. Both are bad policies but neither has much to do with the current macroeconomic mess. So had he stopped there, I could understand his not so ambitious goal of reaching a 6% unemployment rate. But then he had to mention #3, which is austerity. Which is working so well in the UK and Europe – not! We have heard from the CBO that allowing the fiscal cliff will lead to another recession. I guess the Republicans are promising some other variation on austerity, which if implemented would mean a continued high GDP gap and high unemployment. Is Mr. Romney running for the office of President or Head Cheerleader?

No comments: