Mitt Romney and the GOP’s amazing case of economic amnesia

Sometimes, when I get tired of communing with the godhead and contemplating the eternal and immutable oneness and infinite bliss of Brahman, the divine originator of all matter, consciousness, dimension, and space-time, I get to thinking about Mitt Romney’s dog.

That, inevitably, gets me thinking about Mitt Romney, and before I know it, a cascade of Mitt-related thoughts begins to flood my mind.

Where does Mitt get his hair detailed? When Mitt sees a life coach, does it mean someone is coaching him in the finer details of appearing to be carbon-based? Has he really stopped baptizing dead non-Mormons as he claims, or does he browse the obit section of the Israel Post like a recovering alcoholic sheepishly pawing the summer drink menu at Applebee’s?

Mostly, though, I wonder what world he’s living in.

Of course, Romney hasn’t been shy about criticizing President Obama’s performance on the economy. And to be sure, the job outlook has been disappointing of late – the latest underwhelming news came on Friday, when it was reported that just 80,000 jobs were created in June.

But Mitt – along with a chorus of Republicans – would like you to believe that Obama has ruined the country and the economy. Because, you know, it was so much healthier when he took over.

I’ve been trying for months to come up with the perfect metaphor to describe Mitt Romney’s view of the economy. Here’s the current version:

George W. Bush gets drunk one night and decides it would be fun to drive his father’s Bentley to Kennebunkport. It was in excellent shape thanks to the Bushes’ young houseboy, Bill Clinton, who had given it a good wax and polish. Toward the end of the trip, young master W. wraps the car around a tree. Then Barack Obama comes in with the Jaws of Life to rescue the four trapped immigrant orphans George had left in the backseat. After Obama calms everyone down and gets the situation under control, Romney shows up and says, “Say, isn’t that ol’ Poppy Bush’s car? What is that truculent black man doing to it? What an outrage! He’s ruined that beautiful automobile! Look at that dent he’s put in the door!”

Okay, I’ll keep trying, but I think I’m coming closer than ever to capturing the Romney campaign’s mindset.

Of course, Mitt Romney has been fond of saying that Barack Obama didn’t cause the recession, but he made it worse. To believe that, you need to take a leap of logic even greater than the one that would make a person think Anne Frank is just champing at the bit to play badminton in Mormon heaven with Joseph Smith and the Osmond family.

Eighty thousand jobs created may be disappointing, but it’s better than 800,000 jobs lost, which is where we were in January of 2009 when Obama took over.

In fact, since Obama took the reins of a crashing economy, things have gotten steadily better, though they’re admittedly still shaky. But Mitt Romney would have you believe that all our problems are the result of our foolish faith in Obama. That’s clearly disingenuous.

But while things may still look fairly dire on the overall jobs front, a lot of that is skewed by the hemorrhaging of public sector jobs – the very kind of government shrinkage that conservatives often cheer.

Indeed, following May’s disappointing jobs report, Michael Linden of the Center for American Progress Action Fund noted that private sector job creation under Barack Obama was far more robust than in the same time frame under George W. Bush:

“Even with today’s disappointing and troubling jobs report, private sector job creation under President Obama has far exceeded private sector job creation under President Bush. 40 months into his presidential term, there are currently more private sector jobs in the economy than when Obama came into office. At the same point in President Bush’s term, the total number of private sector jobs was still down 1.7 percent from where it began. …

“But there is one area of job creation where President Bush clearly outshines President Obama: the public sector. Public sector employment is now down 608,000 workers since January 2009, a 2.7 percent decline. At the same point in President Bush’s term, public sector employment was up 3.7 percent.”

So after inheriting one of the worst economies since the Great Depression, Obama has steadily added private sector jobs. In fact, when it comes to private sector job creation, we’ve completely dug ourselves out of the gaping hole that George W. Bush left us.

And what did George W. Bush do when he came into office? He followed the standard Republican playbook: Cut taxes, particularly for the wealthy, and take a more or less laissez faire attitude toward regulation, including regulation of the financial sector. How did that work out?

So the question we have to ask ourselves is, how will Mitt Romney be different from George W. Bush?

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