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The Shyster: How Romney Will Promise Anything to Be President

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As The Hill reports, Mitt Romney is pledging to bring the unemployment rate below six percent by the end of his first term -- and of course in so pledging is once more sinking back to his default position of smearing President Obama:

"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 percent, and perhaps a little lower," Romney says in a Time magazine interview...

"This is a President who spends his time blaming other people for the fact that he has been unsuccessful in turning around this economy," Romney says in the Time interview. "And I think the reason you're seeing across the country, people saying they'd like to try someone new, is because they believe this President, while he may be a nice guy, is simply not up to the task of helping guide an economy."

We've heard this sort of crap from Romney so often before. He won't just say and do anything for votes, he'll promise anything as well. (And, of course, he has some rather significant problems with the truth.)

First, assuming Romney wins, if the unemployment rate is that low by the end of his first term, it won't be because of anything he's done. It would only be because a) the global economy has improved significantly enough to pull the U.S. along for the ride; b) there has been a significant enough domestic stimulus to create a huge number of jobs; c) the U.S. is embroiled in a massive foreign war; or d) pigs fly, hell freezes over, the Cubs win the World Series, and nothing makes any rational sense whatsoever.

It could be a), and we're already seeing signs of sustainable recovery, including domestic job growth, but the president has very little impact on the global economy, and so that wouldn't be Romney's doing at all.

Romney isn't about to embrace demand-side Keynesianism, whatever his former inclinations (back when he was something other than the suck-up to the far right he is now), not with his party so firmly entrenched against government spending, and so isn't about to push a major stimulus package, so forget b).

With all the saber-rattling among Republicans, a war is possible (like with, say, Iran), but it would likely not be enough of one to stimulate the economy enough to create widespread employment, so forget c). Although I must at least acknowledge the possibility of an alternative c), which would be conscription. You never know.

I have nothing to say about d) other than that Romney would take credit for any of those things and say he was for it all along, no matter what he may have said in the past, back before all the sucking up.

I suppose e) would be a redefinition of unemployment altogether, also possible given Romney's penchant for blatant dishonesty. (This is the man, remember, who recently took "a lot of credit", utterly without merit, for General Motors's success despite having previously called, more or less, for its obliteration, and explicitly for Detroit's bankruptcy, yet another "Etch a Sketch" moment.)

In any event, to repeat, it wouldn't be Romney's doing.

Second, it's ridiculous (and incredibly unrealistic) to blame the president for not "turning around the economy," as if turning it around means not just fixing it but making it the dominant global force it once was. (Note to my dear American friends: It never will be. Ever. Ever. Again. Sorry.) Against all manner of ugly Republican obstructionism, Obama succeeded in slowing and then reversing the downward spiral in which he found the economy upon taking office. If not for the Republicans, the stimulus would have been larger, and hence the recovery quicker and greater. If not for the Republicans, the U.S. wouldn't have the mass of debt it has today, largely as a result of Republican militarism and the Bush tax cuts. And so on and so on...

Basically, there wasn't much Obama could do, and in fact, in retrospect, it's amazing he got done what he did -- stabilizing the economy and unemployment and putting in place the tools for recovery, including the Wall Street and auto industry bailouts (whatever else you might think of them, especially the former). So the question isn't what Obama should have done but didn't but what the economy would look like had he not been president, or, more to the point, if the Republicans had held the White House along with Congress and imposed their destructive policies on the country -- the ones Romney is pushing now.

Third, unemployment is already coming down... under Obama:

When Obama took office in January 2009, unemployment stood at 7.8 percent and rose throughout the year, peaking at 10 percent in October. It's been slowly declining since, hitting 8.1 percent in April, although job growth has slowed in recent months.

In other words, he's actually presided over significant job growth, including notably in the private sector. Is it moving in the right direction? Yes. Is it moving quickly enough? No. But, again, there's only so much Obama can do, not just because of Republican obstructionism but because he only has so much control -- and really not very much at all -- over the U.S. labor market. He can't force employers to hire, after all, and there isn't much he can do about U.S. corporations sitting on massive amounts of cash and profit.

Third, what has Romney ever done to create jobs? And why should anyone trust a shameless vulture capitalist to guide the economy to the promised land and bring the bounty of mass employment to the American people?

As the Trojans might have said, beware of people named Mitt Romney making promises they cannot possibly keep.

Cross-posted at The Reaction

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