The Obama-Romney job performance comparisons are dumb. But if you insist…
Any comparison of job creation between Obama as President and Romney as governor (or venture capitalist) is worthless. The nation is not like a state or a firm. But the Romney folks keep harping on it, because they see the persistently high national unemployment rate as a liability for the President. Their argument, over and over again, is based on unemployment being lower in Massachusetts in the mid-2000s than it is nationally today.
Which is, of course, enormously stupid. The best way to assess Romney’s job creation prowess (which I must stress again, I find to be an absurd campaign issue) is to compare Massachusetts against the rest of the nation during Romney’s term of influence.
Well, Romney folks, you might want to be careful on this one.
First, a note on the Massachusetts budget process. The governor proposes a budget in January, which is then worked on by the legislature and returned in June for the governor’s signature. The fiscal year starts July 1. This matters because a new governor essentially administers the prior governor’s policies for the first half-year, until the new governor’s budget, including economic policies, is enacted.
Here’s the only counter-argument the Obama people need. The chart below shows the difference between the unemployment rates of the U.S. and Massachusetts. Positive figures mean Massachusetts was outperforming the rest of the country, negative means Massachusetts was lagging the U.S.
Since mid-1995, Massachusetts’ unemployment rate has always been lower than the nation’s, with one exception: the end of Mitt Romney’s term as governor. From December 2005 to May 2007, Massachusetts’ unemployment rate was higher than (14 months) or equal to (4 months) the national rate.
In other words, before Romney’s first budget was enacted, Massachusetts enjoyed almost 8 years with lower unemployment than the nation. Then, after less than 2.5 years of Romney’s stewardship, the state’s unemployment rate eclipsed the national figure for the first time in more than 10 years. Then, for the last 19 months under Romney’s budgets, Massachusetts spent 18 months lagging or just equaling the national unemployment average. But since Deval Patrick succeeded Romney and Patrick’s first budget was enacted, the state unemployment rate has remained below the national average–for almost five years.
Unemployment’s hardly a slam-dunk for Romney.