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KRUGMAN: Romney's snow job on jobs

  • (MIKE SMITH / Las Vegas Sun)

Mitt Romney talks a lot about jobs. But does he have a plan to create any? You can defend President Barack Obama's jobs record — recovery from a severe financial crisis is always difficult, and especially so when the opposition party does its best to block every policy initiative you propose. And things have definitely improved over the past year. Still, unemployment remains high after all these years, and a candidate with a real plan to make things better could make a strong case for his election.

But Romney, it turns out, doesn't have a plan; he's just faking it. In saying that, I don't mean that I disagree with his economic philosophy; I do, but that's a separate point. I mean, instead, that Romney's campaign is telling lies: claiming that its numbers add up when they don't, claiming that independent studies support its position when those studies do no such thing.

Before I get there, let me take a minute to talk about Romney's claim that he knows how to fix the economy because he's been a successful businessman. That would be a dubious claim even if he were honestly representing his career, because the skills needed to run a business and those needed to manage economic policy are very different. In any case, however, his portrait of his own experience is so misleading that it takes your breath away.

For Romney, who started as a business consultant and then moved into the heady world of private equity, insists on portraying himself as a plucky small-business man.

I am not making this up. In Tuesday's debate, he declared, “I came through small business. I understand how hard it is to start a small business.” In his speech at the Republican convention, he declared, “When I was 37, I helped start a small company.”

Ahem. It's true that when Bain Capital started, it had only a handful of employees. But it had $37 million in funds, raised from sources that included wealthy Europeans investing through Panamanian shell companies and Central American oligarchs living in Miami while death squads associated with their families ravaged their home nations. Hey, doesn't every plucky little startup have access to that kind of financing? But back to the Romney jobs plan. As many people have noted, the plan has five points but contains no specifics. Loosely speaking, however, it calls for a return to Bushonomics: tax cuts for the wealthy plus weaker environmental protection. And Romney says that the plan would create 12 million jobs over the next four years.

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