After government data showed that the U.S. economy created a tepid 115,000 jobs in April, Mitt Romney promptly seized on the news to attack President Obama's policies. "This is way, way off from what should happen in a normal recovery," Romney said, going on to suggest some abnormal scenarios of his own: Romney called anything above a 4 percent unemployment rate nothing to celebrate and suggested that the economy should be adding 500,000 jobs every month. Is Romney setting unrealistic goals?
Yes. The U.S. economy has rarely performed that well: Since 1970, the U.S. has created 500,000 jobs in one month only five times, says Tim Hanrahan at The Wall Street Journal. Jimmy Carter did it twice, in March and April 1978, while Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Obama each presided over a month in which 500,000 jobs were added. Romney is known for disparaging the Carter administration, but when it comes to "outsized job gains, President Carter might indeed be his man."
"Romney's 500,000 jobs a month is rare, high mark"
Romney's claims hurt his credibility: Romney's "impossibly high" bar for the economy is a pander "that could paint him as divorced from reality on the economy," say Benjy Sarlin and Evan McMorris-Santoro at TalkingPointsMemo. The economy is generally considered at "full employment" when the jobless rate is 5 percent, making his goal of 4 percent almost nonsensical. Romney's "wildly optimistic projections" could undermine his "claim that he's an economic expert, not just a politician who's 'in over his head,' as he claims Obama is."
"Did Mitt Romney set the unemployment bar impossibly high?"
And could dog him if he wins the election: "Every president makes statements as a candidate that he later comes to regret once he is in the White House," and Romney could rue his ambitious goals if he wins the election, says Peter Baker at The New York Times. For a glaring example, Romney need look no further than Obama, who regularly gets dinged for predicting rapid growth early in his first term, only to see the recovery falter.
"Romney may come to regret comment on job creation"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The big, gaping hole in the liberal policy arsenal
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science
- The militarization of America’s police
- A gay Mormon's complicated journey
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- House hunting: 7 beautiful homes in Georgia
- Why you shouldn't eat dog. Not even once.
Subscribe to the Week