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Romney’s Not-So-Bold Economic Predictions

Romney’s Not-So-Bold Economic Predictions October 19, 2012

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have told everyone who asked, and many who didn’t, that their economic plan will create 12 million jobs if they are elected. Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post notes that there are multiple economic models that predict almost exactly that increase in jobs over the next four years no matter who is in office.

As we have noted before, the 12 million figure is not a bad bet by Romney. Moody’s Analytics, in an August forecast, predicts 12 million jobs will be created by 2016, no matter who is president. And Macroeconomic Advisors in April also predicted a gain of 12.3 million jobs.

He also points out that many of the studies his campaign cites as evidence for their prediction don’t really say that at all:

We asked the Romney campaign, and the answer turns out to be: totally different studies … with completely different timelines.

For instance, the claim that 7 million jobs would be created from Romney’s tax plan is a 10-year number, derived from a study written by John W. Diamond, a professor at Rice University.

This study at least assesses the claimed effect of specific Romney policies. The rest of the numbers are even more squishy.

For instance, the 3-million-jobs claim for Romney’s energy policies appears largely based on aCitigroup Global Markets study that did not even evaluate Romney’s policies. Instead, the report predicted 2.7 million to 3.6 million jobs would be created over the next eight years, largely because of trends and policies already adopted — including tougher fuel efficiency standards that Romneyhas criticized and suggested he would reverse.

The 2-million-jobs claim from cracking down on China is also very suspicious.

This figure comes from a 2011 International Trade Commission report, which estimated that there could be a gain of 2.1 million jobs if China stopped infringing on U.S. intellectual property rights. The estimate is highly conditional and pegged to the job market in 2011, when there was high unemployment. “It is unclear when China might implement  the improvement in IPR protection envisioned in the analysis, and equally unclear whether the United States will face as much excess labor supply then as it does today,” the report says.

The Romney campaign has already used this study, in a misleading way, to claim that Obama’s China “policies cost us 2 million jobs.” Now the campaign has just taken the same figure and credited the claimed job gain to itself, even though the report does not examine any of Romney’s proposed policies.

If you’re surprised by any of this, you haven’t been paying attention.

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