The Corner

Obama Camp to Attack Romney’s Massachusetts Record

ABC News reports:

Team Obama will point to Romney’s rhetoric on job creation, size of government, education, deficits and taxes during the 2002 gubernatorial campaign and draw parallels with his presidential stump speeches of 2012. The goal is to illustrate that Romney has made the same promises before with unimpressive results, officials say.

On jobs, for example, Romney pitched himself in 2002 as a conservative businessman who could right the economic ship after the tech bubble burst led to layoffs across the Bay State.  During a Boston debate, Romney said, “I have experience in the private sector building and creating thousands of good jobs, and I want to bring that skill for you here in Massachusetts” – a theme he regularly reprises today.

Those promises notwithstanding, Massachusetts was 47th out of 50 states in job creation under Romney. In manufacturing jobs, Romney presided over a net loss of 40,000 jobs, a drop of 12 percent according to Labor Department data.

It’s accurate that Massachusetts was 47th in job creation during Romney’s tenure. However, there were 50,000 additional net jobs created during his time, and unemployment went from 5.6 percent to 4.7 percent — and the Romney campaign has never been shy about pointing out that Barack Obama wouldn’t mind a similar record on jobs nationally. There was also the fact that the dot-com bust disproportionately affected Massachusetts:

“He came in between as the recovery was just about to begin, and then he left before the next recession hit. So the economy was beginning to recover, but we had been hit particularly hard by the dot-com bust,” observes Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. Bolstering Widmer’s point is a 2007 study done by Massachusetts Institute for a New Economy that found the Bay State had the most severe job loss in light of the high-tech sector’s downfall. While the national average was a 2 percent job loss, Massachusetts suffered one of 6 percent. 

#more#On the manufacturing front, it’s again true that a significant number of jobs were lost when Romney was governor. It’s also true that no governor in Massachusetts in recent years has been able to stop manufacturing jobs from leaving the state:

The number of manufacturing jobs did shrink during Romney’s tenure, according to a Northeastern University study, which found that from 2002 to 2006 manufacturing jobs decreased 14 percent in the Bay State — compared with 7 percent nationwide.

But that was nothing new in Massachusetts, which has been hemorrhaging these jobs for decades. From 1985 to 2000, the number of manufacturing jobs went from 657,000 to 408,000, according to a paper prepared by Northeastern for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. From 2000 to 2005 (Romney was governor from 2003 to 2007), another 103,000 manufacturing jobs were lost. In January of 2007, when Romney left office, there were 297,000 manufacturing jobs. Current Democratic governor Deval Patrick hasn’t been able to halt the trend: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ January report (the most recent available), there were only 255,000 manufacturing jobs left.

And for what it’s worth, during the primary, Jon Huntsman’s campaign highlighted that Massachusetts was 47th in job creation under Romney — and that attack never seemed to get much traction.

Katrina TrinkoKatrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...


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