I’ve spoken before about the constant torrent of dishonesty from the Romney campaign. From the small issues (tax returns) to the big ones (Obama’s “apology tour”), Romney and his team have routinely lied to make a point or build a case. When it comes to the economy, for example, the Romney team takes every job lost in 2009, regardless of whether Obama’s policies were in effect or not, and attributes it to the president. It’s a distorted number—he claims two million lost jobs—designed to mislead voters with a false picture of the economy.
The Romney campaign has been criticized—repeatedly—for this misleading approach to economic numbers, but like a child that acts out in class, this has only encouraged their misbehavior. To wit, the Romney team now claims that the number of new business start-ups has declined by 100,000 as a result of Obama’s policies. As with the jobs number, this is only possible if you include the period of beginning in 2008 and ending in early 2009. If you take 2009 as your starting point, and end in 2011, there’s a decline of 12,000—a dramatic change from Romney’s claim. If you omit 2009—as the year when the recession ended—the number jumps to 29,000. Neither of these is good, but it’s far from the disaster that the Romney campaign describes.
Indeed, after debunking Romney’s numbers, the Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler goes to town on the campaign’s habitual dishonesty:
The bottom line is that experts at the agency that generated the data and the organization that analysed it, as well as the person who used it in congressional testimony, all say Romney is starting with the wrong date.
By using the 2008 numbers, Romney essentially is comparing pre-recession figures with post-recession figures, not data that reflects what happened under President Obama. Just as with job creation under this president, the results starting from 2009 are not great, showing a slight overall decline and then modest improvement once the recession ended.
As the president well knows, that uncertain result has made for a challenging reelection campaign. But Romney has goosed his figure so much that it has little credibility. [Emphasis added]
To a large degree, as Paul Krugman points out, Mitt Romney’s bid for the presidency depends on the collective amnesia of the American public. More than fifty percent of voters have to forget that Republicans were both responsible for this mess and refused to cooperate when it came time to clean it up. The Romney team knows this, and so they’re muddying the waters in order to obfuscate the degree to which the former Massachusetts governor hopes to repeat the performance of his GOP predecessor.