TO win re-election, President Barack Obama has been forced to downplay his own economic record and caricature Republican candidate Mitt Romney. The results have been an assault on common sense.
Obama has portrayed Romney as a pioneer of outsourcing jobs during his time at Bain Capital. Those walking into a Staples store may be surprised to hear the president thinks they've entered China. The company is just one of many in which Bain invested while Romney was with the firm. So were The Sports Authority, Bright Horizons and Steel Dynamics. The four businesses employ more than 120,000 people — jobs located in the United States.
Comparing job-creation statistics is dangerous territory for Obama, so he's sticking to the outsourcing attack even as it falls apart. It turns out that after “reviewing numerous corporate filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, contemporary news accounts, company histories and press releases, and the evidence offered by both the Obama and Romney campaigns,” FactCheck.org “found no evidence to support the claim that Romney — while he was still running Bain Capital — shipped American jobs overseas.”
Still, you can't blame Obama for trying, especially given the unflattering light cast by his economic record. Under this president, we've experienced 41 consecutive months of a national unemployment rate greater than 8 percent. Add in discouraged workers and the rate climbs to 15 percent. Last month, more people qualified for disability payments than there were new jobs. And the Federal Reserve has downgraded its economic outlook for 2012, predicting growth of just 1.9 percent to 2.4 percent.
Yet Obama called June's employment report “heading in the right direction.” You might think he misspoke, but Obama's proposals show his idea of a good economy isn't necessarily one where people are employed.
Under last year's debt-limit deal, the president has to reach agreement with Congress this year to avoid $50 billion in automatic cuts to national defense. One study estimates those cuts will directly cost 350,000 jobs and indirectly affect 1 million. States with a strong military presence, like Oklahoma, will be hard hit.
The U.S. House has proposed cutting other areas of government instead. Naturally, Obama has responded with a veto threat. Given the choice between a strong national defense that also employs citizens or seeing people on food stamps, Obama is literally choosing the latter.
At the same time, Obamacare includes numerous tax increases. The president is determined to raise income taxes for those earning more than $250,000 (commonly known as “employers”) by allowing the George W. Bush-era tax cuts to expire. Both measures promise to stifle job creation. To soak the rich, Obama is willing to sacrifice job opportunities for the poor and the middle class.
States that have lower unemployment, such as Oklahoma and North Dakota, have benefited from energy production. So naturally the president pushes environmental policies to impede that job creation even as the alternative energy companies he touts and subsidizes keep going bust.
Romney's real-world business success contrasts nicely with Obama's ability to turn Donald Trump's TV catchphrase (“You're fired!”) into national economic policy. Come November, voters may think moving in the “right direction” means that Obama is headed out the White House door.