GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's reaction to high unemployment is creepy.
During an interview with CBS reporter Jan Crawford last week, Romney smirked as he mentioned that unemployment has remained above 8 percent for 39 months. Then, as the interview ended, he smirked again after saying President Obama had hoped the Recovery Act would reduce joblessness to 6 percent by now.
Romney is loving high unemployment. Just like the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives that has repeatedly blocked President Obama's proposals to increase hiring, Romney believes high joblessness is good for the GOP. It's one thing for a politician to know in his heart of hearts that a calamity for the country may help him achieve his ambitions. It's another to be so callous as to beam about it on TV.
The nation's sustained high unemployment disheartens any normal human being. Friday's report that only 69,000 jobs were created in May was troubling -- that is, to anyone who has ever been laid off or had a friend or relative or neighbor who lost a job. They know the feelings of fear, depression and guilt that accompany job loss. They've experienced the suffering as job applications are rejected, bills pile up and foreclosure is threatened. Normal people don't smile about high unemployment; they cringe.
Romney contends he's the fella to fix those unemployment numbers. But his record as CEO of Bain Capital and governor of Massachusetts provides little evidence of that. The focus of Bain was never job creation. It was money making. And if making money meant destroying jobs, that's what Bain did.
An analysis by the Wall Street Journal of the companies Bain bought in the 15 years Romney ran it found that 22 percent went bankrupt or closed within eight years. That's untold thousands of workers who lost their jobs and untold thousands of Bain creditors who endured losses because of bad Bain business practices.
Romney has frequently contended Bain created 100,000 jobs while he led it. The Washington Post fact checker awarded that claim three Pinocchios. After Republican rivals Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry chanted, "show us the jobs," Romney lowered the number. Kinda significantly. Down to tens of thousands of jobs. Finally, Romney cut the figure even further, releasing a campaign video saying he'd created "thousands of jobs."
If "thousands" is true, that's good. But, frankly, "thousands" over 15 years is hardly a bragging point for a candidate who contends his private sector experience will enable him to create the millions of jobs the nation needs.
Romney's job generation as governor of Massachusetts doesn't instill much confidence in his ability to perform on the national level either. Massachusetts added 45,800 jobs in the four years he was governor. While that's positive, it occurred during a time of economic expansion nationally, not during the grave recession President Obama inherited.
In addition, Massachusetts' net jobs growth declined to 1.4 percent during Romney's governorship, significantly lower than the 5.8 percent growth in the rest of the nation. In fact, Massachusetts dropped to 47th for job growth during Romney's reign, far lower than during his predecessor's time.
Romney claimed at one point during the campaign that he was unemployed, and laughed about it. But this quarter billionaire doesn't have a clue what it's like to really be jobless or desperate. This is the silver-spoon son of a car company executive, a man who attended exclusive private schools, a man who handed his own son $10 million to help start his business, a man who has a car elevator in his $9 million California beach house.
This is a candidate who mocked NASCAR fans for wearing cheap rain slickers while his wife wears $1,000 silk t-shirts. This is an owner of three homes valued at a total of $20 million who opposed helping underwater homeowners, saying the foreclosure crisis should "run its course and hit bottom."
This is a man who actually said he likes to fire people. Not hire people. Fire people. Here's what he said:
"I like being able to fire people who provide services to me."
The slow jobs growth in May is not surprising, frankly, considering the economic contraction occurring in Europe and even in China. In the 17-nation Eurozone, unemployment now has risen to a record 11 percent, far higher than in the United States where Obama's Recovery Act prevented the country from falling off the cliff into another Great Depression.
Unlike the United States and China, both of which invested in stimulus, Europe chose austerity. Greece, Spain, Italy, Ireland and Great Britain now are suffering economic contraction and distress caused by austerity.
That's what Romney and the Republicans propose for America. Austerity. Job contraction. Recession. Suffering.
It's not true what Romney says about Americans. They aren't jealous of his wealth. They don't care that he and his wife ride $100,000 horses. They just want to be able to afford a rocking horse for their kid. They don't care about the Romneys' vacations in France. They just want to be able to save enough to get the kids a season pass to the municipal pool.
They don't, however, want their country run by a guy who can't conceive what it's like to be unemployed and has made no effort to find out. They don't want to be led by a guy who likes firing people. They don't want a president who finds enjoyment in high unemployment.