Mitt Romney opens the door to 2016 - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Mitt Romney opens the door to 2016

So Mitt Romney has let it be known to a circle of donors that he’s considering running for President a third time in 2016. For someone who’s repeatedly sworn off any interest of running again after a lopsided defeat in the Electoral College, it’s a surprising about-face.

Look at the bigger picture, and it’s a little less surprising. With the latest jobs numbers showing that a solid 252,000 jobs were created in December, 2014 is officially the best year of job creation in this century. The deficit is falling, unemployment is down, and contrary to Romney’s assertions, the rate of uninsured has plummeted after the implementation of Obamacare.

In other words, what should be down is falling in Obama’s America, and what should be up is on the ascendance. Who wouldn’t want to take the oath in January 2017 and inherit that?

Ironically, a lot of the campaign promises Romney made last time on the trail have been kept. The problem for him is, it was President Obama who made them into reality.

“I can tell you that over a period of four years, by virtue of the policies that we’d put in place, we’d get the unemployment rate down to 6%, and perhaps a little lower,” Romney told a crowd in March 2012. At the time, unemployment at the U.S. stood at 8.1%.

But it was in October 2014, less than two years after the country deprived itself of a Romney-led economic reawakening, that the unemployment rate tumbled below 6% on Obama’s watch. That’s more than two years earlier than Romney promised!

And the unemployment rate is still lower today, at 5.6% thanks to three more solid jobs reports – including the fantastic report for November, when the economy added a stellar 353,000 jobs amid 5% GDP growth for the last quarter of 2014.

President Obama announces new manufacturing policy at a plant in Arden, N.C. (whitehouse.gov)

President Obama announces new manufacturing policy at a plant in Arden, N.C. (whitehouse.gov)

And there’s more. In the same secret fundraiser where he made the infamous 47% remarks, Romney predicted that the stock markets would soar in his administration, while four more years of Obama would mean bear market territory.

But the stock market has been on a tear, with the Dow recently crossing the 18,000 threshold for the first time. Considering that it was at just 7,945 points on the day Obama took office, that’s a 118% gain.

But wait! Maybe Obama doesn’t deserve any credit for the stock market’s boom; in the past, Mitt Romney has shown his amazing ability to bring about positive change when he’s not even in office. “I pushed the idea of a managed bankruptcy, and finally when that was done, and help was given, the companies got back on their feet,” Romney said of the auto industry’s rebound in a 2012 interview. “So I’ll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry has come back.”

Even giving him the complete benefit of the doubt on the first half of his statement –pretending that he’d been advocating for anything resembling the government’s rescue program in his 2009 op-ed “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” his statement is still stunning. Just by talking about a path to resurgence for the auto industry, you can take a lot of credit for it when the feat is pulled off by others?

Maybe we’ll later learn that the good economic news of late is thanks to Romney’s advice being acted on. So if this recovery continues into 2016, maybe Romney will “take a lot of credit for that” in debates.

The Obama Economy (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

The Obama Economy

What about gas prices? In 2012 Romney at least was smart enough to decline to make any promises about the dollar figure he’d bring gas down to, correctly pointing out that there are a lot of variables that go into that equation. But he charged on the trail that President Obama was “absolutely” to blame for then-high gas prices, as his policies weren’t doing enough to unlock America’s shale oil potential.

But Romney vowed to build the Keystone pipeline “even if I have to do it myself,” and tied its approval to lowered energy prices nationally. So with gas prices down by more than a dollar compared to a year ago – and with oil at a six-year low – is Romney admitting he might have been overly enthusiastic in his bid to secure 35 permanent jobs in building a pipeline for a foreign corporation?

Nope. Romney urged the lame-duck Congress to pass the Keystone pipeline, at a time when there was still a theoretical chance it could have passed immigration reform or another contentious subject with the pressure of the midterms behind it. Like his party, he’s doubling down, completely undeterred by plummeting gas prices that make Keystone a “solution” in search of a problem.

Wrong about jobs, wrong about Obamacare ever since he invented it, wrong about the stock market and now wrong about energy, Mitt Romney is joining the GOP in making a last-minute push for a pipeline that will have a tenuous relationship to energy prices in America, but can at least be counted on to line the pockets of a foreign CEO.

Meanwhile, the man he set out to replace is presiding over record job creation, a booming stock market, and is making a push to provide affordable college to graduating high school seniors so they can help America compete on the global stage.

Can you imagine if any one of the last three jobs reports had taken place while Mitt Romney was President? You can be sure that the guy who tried to claim credit for the rescue of the auto industry would have proclaimed a national casual Friday to celebrate those numbers, while his aides took to the streets to parade the economic fruits of Romneyism.

Instead, Romney and the rest of the GOP are reduced to sifting through the employment reports to find one statistic on wages to tut-tut about, despite the fact it was their party that produced the last President to oversee a major economic meltdown.

And when wages inevitably go up, however slowly they track the rest of the recovery? Don’t worry — this perennial candidate will be there to take the credit.


About the author

Wills Dahl

William Dahl is a recent graduate of The College of William and Mary, where he majored in Government and studied abroad in La Plata, Argentina. He has worked for community foundations in Argentina and Miami dedicated to community engagement and prosecution for human rights abuses. A native Virginian, he moved to Baltimore in 2013 to join a financial research firm, where he enjoys being able to write on the side. Contact the author.
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