Romney Promises to Move the Calendar Forward

Mitt Romney is out with a new ad that touts his economic plan. Take a look:

The main problem with Romney’s “five point plan” to create jobs is that it has a tenuous relationship to actual job creation. It may or may not make sense to increase domestic drilling, crack down on China, devolve federal programs like Medicaid, cut taxes, and repeal the Affordable Care Act. I’m inclined to say that these are ineffective and potentially damaging policies, but they’re worth debating on the merits. It’s absurd, however, to sell these as job-creation measures. At best, they’ll help the long-term economy create jobs. But they do nothing to generate short-term demand—tax cuts might do the trick, but only if they aren’t paired with the promised cuts to domestic spending.

The most glaring issue in this ad—and Romney’s plan—is his promise to create 12 million jobs by the end of his term. According to projections from Moody’s Analytics, the economy will create 12 million jobs if it remains on its current trajectory. Romney’s promise sounds impressive, but it’s little more than the agreed-upon baseline for the next four years.

This new push is an attempt to reboot the Romney campaign after weeks of missteps and poor polling. Team Romney has promised to get specific, and to offer detailed proposals to the American public.

But the reality of Romney’s “job creation” plan highlights the problem with this strategy. When you look at the details of Romney’s plan, what you see are the policies of the previous administration, coupled with a pledge to simply move the calendar forward to 2016. The most Romney could do is detail the contents of his spending plan, and then wait for voters to reject his upper-income tax breaks and large cuts to existing social services.

If Romney were interested in making a genuine reboot, he would ignore conservatives and embrace the more moderate aspects of his political thinking. An acknowledgment that Keynesian policies can work—and a promise to preserve the best parts of the Affordable Care Act—could go a log way toward boosting his standing with undecided voters.

But this would require Romney to buck the Republican Party and chart his own course. Given what we know about the former Massachusetts governor, this doesn’t seem likely.