Romney's mixed message on government spending and jobs

One of Republican Mitt Romney’s latest television commercials in Iowa asserts that cutting government spending and eliminating the federal deficit will create 130,000 jobs in Iowa. Meanwhile, in states with more military bases and defense sector industry, Romney campaign advertising promises to create hundreds of thousands of jobs by reversing planned cuts in defense spending.

All of the latest Romney campaign commercials around the country are available on his campaign’s official YouTube channel.

Here’s the Iowa version of “A Better Future: Deficit”

My transcript:

Footage from Romney’s acceptance speech at the GOP national convention: This president can ask us to be patient, this president can tell us it was someone else’s fault, but this president cannot tell us that you’re better off today than when he took office. [camera pans over packed arena, then shows Romney at podium; words on screen AUGUST 30, 2012 TAMPA, FLORIDA]

Female voice-over: Here in Iowa, we’re not better off under President Obama. [Black and white photo of Obama looking downcast; words on screen HERE IN IOWA WE’RE NOT BETTER OFF UNDER OBAMA]

Voice-over continues: There’s a prairie fire of debt that grows over three billion dollars each day [different black and white photo of Obama, words on screen $16 TRILLION IN DEBT U.S. Department of Treasury, 09.05.2012, then black and white photo of Obama smiling and waving, words on screen $3 BILLION EACH DAY U.S. Department of Treasury]

Romney’s plan for Iowa? [words on screen THE ROMNEY PLAN FOR IOWA]

Cut government spending, eliminate the deficit, create over 130,000 new jobs for Iowa. [uplifting music, color footage of Romney shaking hands with people in crowd, scenes of happy ordinary people on their way to work or at work, aerial shot of a combine harvester in a field]

Romney’s voice: I’m Mitt Romney, and I approve this message. [Romney/Ryan campaign logo on screen, with website and donate button]

Here’s the Iowa version of a similar ad, “A Better Future: Overregulation”

My transcript:

Footage from Romney’s acceptance speech at the GOP national convention: This president can ask us to be patient, this president can tell us it was someone else’s fault, but this president cannot tell us that you’re better off today than when he took office. [camera pans over packed arena, then shows Romney at podium; words on screen AUGUST 30, 2012 TAMPA, FLORIDA]

Female voice-over: Here in Iowa, we’re not better off under President Obama. [Black and white photo of Obama looking downcast; words on screen HERE IN IOWA WE’RE NOT BETTER OFF UNDER OBAMA]

Voice-over continues: Excessive government regulations are crushing small businesses and family farms. Thousands of jobs lost. [different black and white photo of Obama, words on screen GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS CRUSHING SMALL BUSINESSES, then black and white photo of Obama smiling and waving, words on screen THOUSANDS OF JOBS LOST Bureau of Labor Statistics, 08.17.12]

The Romney plan? [words on screen THE ROMNEY PLAN FOR IOWA]

Repeal Obama’s excessive regulations, foster innovation, create over 130,000 new jobs for Iowa. [uplifting music, color footage of Romney shaking hands with people in crowd, scenes of a shop owner switching a sign from “closed” to “open,” a manager smiling with a factory floor as a backdrop, aerial shot of a farm field; words on screen REPEAL OBAMA’S REGULATIONS, then CREATE OVER 130,000 NEW JOBS]

Romney’s voice: I’m Mitt Romney, and I approve this message. [Romney/Ryan campaign logo on screen, with website and donate button]

Iowa doesn’t have much defense industry, so the Romney campaign isn’t focusing on the military cuts in its messaging here. We get the standard Republican talking points about cutting spending and reducing regulations as the path to economic prosperity.

But in Virginia, Colorado, Ohio, Florida, and North Carolina, Romney’s television ads warn that cutting defense spending will threaten tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of jobs, depending on the state. William Saletan notes in Slate that in recent stump speeches and interviews, Romney rejects any cuts in the military budget. Instead, he wants to increase active-duty personnel and buy more military equipment. Furthermore, Romney proposes to set defense spending at a minimum of 4 percent of U.S. GDP, so that any future economic growth will lead to automatic defense spending increases. Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan put more defense spending in his budget than Pentagon officials requested.

Politicians have long viewed defense spending as a jobs program, which is why it has been so difficult to eliminate weapons systems or military bases that the Pentagon doesn’t even want. Of course, federal spending on defense stimulates the economy, especially in areas heavily populated by military personnel or defense contractor employees. Although GOP candidates don’t admit it, many other forms of government spending create jobs too. That’s why private companies engaged in road building support more federal and state funding for highways, and agriculture equipment manufacturers support farm subsidies.

Here’s a recent history lesson for those worried about the defense cuts looming in 2013. We wouldn’t face this “threat” to national security if Congressional Republicans hadn’t played chicken about raising the debt ceiling in the summer of 2011. The only reason Congress approved the Budget Control Act was to prevent the U.S. from defaulting on its debt, which would have sparked an economic crisis. Iowa’s five U.S. House representatives all voted against the Budget Control Act in August 2011, as did both of our U.S. senators.

In contrast, Paul Ryan voted for that bill and now denies any responsibility for its implications.

For the record, I don’t believe these military budget cuts will happen, no matter who wins the November elections. Somehow, Congress will find an end run around the sequester early next year.

Any relevant thoughts are welcome in this thread.

  • it's not a mixed message

    The Republicans are pretty clear that defense is a national priority, other things not so much. They specifically want to exempt the Pentagon from their ideological worldview on spending cuts.

    For the record, I don’t believe

    That’s nice. It’s an easy opinion to hold when you take no risk in making it. For the record, I have no financial stake in the outcome. It’s just obvious that decision-makers are not going to act on “beliefs.” In fact, the pols who voted for the BCA were reassured of the same. What you’re missing is that it’s also the lack of guidelines, not just the BCA itself, that factors into the uncertainty. Additionally, by DOL law, the layoff notices are due in mailboxes October.

    There are many decision-makers who hold the “99% sure it’ll be averted” personal opinion but aren’t going to stake their livelihoods (and the livelihoods of others) on it, because they have to go by the book.

    Of course, announcing the layoff notices is more politics and pressure from the contractors themselves. They are trying to force the pols to resolve the issue before the election and why not? It’s non-ideological to them.

    July 2011, Gallup polling on the issue revealed that Americans were against raising the debt ceiling, even if it put the economy at risk, remember? I don’t understand the point you’re making in your “history lesson.” Is this what you would have preferred? Congresspersons who voted for BCA were told, “don’t worry, sequester will never kick in.” Now we have a lot of finger-pointing, not much action.

    As I mentioned in an earlier thread, should the status quo prevail up to the election, I don’t expect a “blame” vote on the issue — just an assessment of naked self-interest.

  • fun fact

    Glenn L Martin, founder of the company that eventually led to Lockheed-Martin, was born in Macksburg, Iowa.

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