Mitt Romney argued this morning that it's "completely absurd" for Democrats to argue that, if elected, he'll allow more layoffs of school teachers, police officers, and firefighters, just because he said on Friday he opposes President Obama's plan to prevent layoffs of teachers, cops, and firefighters. Oddly enough, as Igor Volsky noted, Newt Gingrich, a high-profile Romney supporter, thinks Democrats are right.
Asked about Romney's opposition to using federal resources to protect teachers and first responders, Gingrich said Americans have to "come to grips" with the policies a Romney administration would pursue: "Does that mean there will be fewer teachers? The honest answer is yes."
This is consistent, by the way, with the Romney campaign's stated position: if Romney's elected, he intends to slash education spending, leading to fewer teachers.
It crystalizes the 2012 race in a straightforward, unambiguous way: President Obama believes the country will benefit if we hire more teachers; Mitt Romney believes the country will benefit if more teachers are laid off. There's not much in the way of gray area -- Romney tried to obscure his position this morning, but both he and his surrogates are making the candidate's position plain. Will be fewer school teachers if Romney has his way? "The honest answer is yes."
Greg Sargent added a good take on the larger political salience: "This underscores again why Romney's original cops/firefighters quote was so problematic and revealing. He singlehandedly reframed this debate as one over whether we should spend federal money specifically on protecting the jobs of cops, firefighters and teachers in order to help alleviate the unemployment crisis. Romney and Republicans need this debate to be about spending on generic Big Bad Government and parasitic bureaucrats, not culturally sympathetic figures that Americans widely identify with and rely upon daily for their safety and the education of their children."