Last night, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan repeated Mitt Romney’s pledge to create 12 million jobs in the first four years of his presidency.
That’s a pledge that assumes monthly job growth at a pace that Romney once called “disheartening.”
To hit that 12 million mark by the end of Romney’s first term, the economy would need to average 250,000 new jobs a month over the time frame.
Reacting to the April 2011 jobs report that showed the economy added 244,000 jobs (it was later revised upwards to 251,000), Romney’s response was blistering.
“Today’s disheartening unemployment increase is another reminder of the failure of President Obama’s economic policies,” Romney said in a May 6 statement, hours after the figures were released from the Labor Department. “We are in the third year of unemployment above 8%.”
After the January 2012 report that reported 243,000 new jobs (later revised to 275,000) Romney said, “we can do better.”
“Unfortunately, these numbers cannot hide the fact that President Obama’s policies have prevented a true economic recovery.”
In Romney’s eight-page white paper, released on August 2, his economic advisers claimed their plan would lead to monthly job creation in the 200,000 to 300,000 range, in line with historical post-recovery trends. For overall economic growth over a ten-year period, they predicted 3.5 to 4 percent average annual GDP expansion.
If Romney’s policies were adopted, “we expect that the current recovery will align with the average gains of similar past recoveries,” his economic advisers wrote.
Last night in Tampa, Ryan made the 12 million goal part of the campaign’s closing economic argument. “We have a plan for a stronger middle class, with the goal of generating 12 million new jobs over the next four years,” he said.
Since their unfulfilled promise of bringing the unemployment rate below 8 percent (it’s lingering at 8.3 percent), Obama’s team has avoided making firm growth predictions. They won’t be burned by their own number again.
For example, when Obama released his jobs program in September of 2011, his advisers declined to attach firm job growth numbers to the proposals. Instead, they ducked behind outside forecasters for any estimate on how many jobs their plan would create. Run the numbers themselves, the White House would not.
The Romney campaign has learned half of that lesson. They provide the hard numbers, but ones that assume soft goals.
“They are trying not to over-promise,” said Doug Holz-Eakin, a former head of the Congressional Budget Office.