If I had a nickel for every time Mitt Romney promised voters he'd create 12 million jobs if elected, I'd have nearly as much money as Mitt Romney. To a very real extent, it's become the central argument underpinning Romney's entire candidacy: vote for him, get 12 million jobs.
Indeed, the Republican best known for laying off American workers and failing to create jobs during his one term as governor, has been fairly specific, at least in terms of the goal: he'll not only create 12 million new jobs, Romney will do so in one term.
The main problem with Romney's vague and unspecified jobs plan has been the fact that the economy is on track to create 12 million jobs between 2012 and 2016 anyway. It makes this a pretty weak promise as campaign boasts go.
But to his credit, Glenn Kessler dug a little deeper, and discovered the Romney campaign's central argument is based on a shameless lie.
This is a case of bait-and-switch. Romney, in his convention speech, spoke of his plan to create "12 million new jobs," which the campaign's White Paper describes as a four-year goal.
But the candidate's personal accounting for this figure in this campaign ad is based on different figures and long-range timelines stretching as long as a decade -- which in two cases are based on studies that did not even evaluate Romney's economic plan. The numbers may still add up to 12 million, but they aren't the same thing -- not by a long shot.
Clearly, some clever campaign staffer thought it would be nice to match up poll-tested themes such as "energy independence," "tax reform" and "cracking down on China" with actual job numbers. We just find it puzzling that Romney agreed to personally utter these words without asking more questions about the math behind them.
Romney has had a little trouble with the meaning of the word "studies" lately, so much so that he thinks blog posts from his supporters qualify for the "studies" label.
But this newly-uncovered problem is even more outrageous. The news here borders on scandalous.
Asked about the promise of 12 million jobs, the Romney campaign breaks it down this way: 3 million jobs in the energy sector, 7 million jobs through changes to the tax code, and 2 million jobs from trade and job training. From there's it's just arithmetic: 3 + 7 + 2 = 12. The campaign has a white paper, prepared by Romney economic advisers, intended to bolster the plan.
But the white paper makes no mention of 3 + 7 + 2 = 12. When Kessler asked Team Romney about this, aides sent over an entirely different study, pointing to 12 million new jobs over the course of 10 years as a result of Romney's agenda.
Except, Romney specifically said 12 million jobs over four years. What's more, the "study" that says Romney can create 3 million jobs in the energy sector is based on a Citigroup Global Markets report that never looked at Romney's proposals, and projected what's possible over eight years.
Adding insult to injury, the 2 million jobs through trade comes from a 2011 International Trade Commission report, which also paid no attention to Romney's policies, and doesn't actually say what the Republican campaign claims it says.
It's extraordinary to consider with just three weeks until Election Day, but Mitt Romney's central argument to voters has been exposed as a total fraud.
Greg Sargent added, "Let's recap what Kessler has discovered here. The plan that is central to Romney's candidacy on the most important issue of this election -- jobs -- is a complete sham. This is every bit as bad -- or worse -- than Romney's claim to have created 100,000 jobs at Bain, or his vow to cut spending by eliminating whole agencies without saying which ones, or his refusal to say how he'll pay for his tax cuts."
I don't seriously expect this to rock the presidential campaign, but it certainly has that potential. The revelation is simply that brutal.