Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Who's out of touch?

Here is Mitt Romney this morning on tv responding to criticism of his suggestion that the American people do not want the federal government to help prevent more layoffs of public employees such as firefighters, police officers, and teachers.

Contrary to what Romney said the other day, when he said that the message of Wisconsin was that the American people want to cut back on government--which he said specifically in contrast to Obama's proposal for the federal government to help increase the number of firefighters, police officers and teachers--this time Romney took a different tack and tried to avoid the question. Today he said that the Obama campaign's accusation that Romney favors cutting more public workers was "strange." How strange could it be, considering that that is exactly what Romney said? Romney also says the following in the clip above:
Of course teachers and firemen and policemen are hired at the local level and also by states. The federal government doesn't pay for teachers, firefighters, or policemen. So obviously that's completely absurd.

Now it's true as far as it goes that these kinds of public employees are generally hired at the state and local level. But Romney also knows very well the scope of the budget problems that state and local governments have been facing due to gigantic revenue shortfalls caused by the crash in 2008. His response is threefold.

First, Romney tries to wash the federal government's hands of the matter. "States are hurting?," a President Romney would say. "Not my problem." Does that mean when we have a Democratic president, Republicans are free to encourage people to blame everything on him, but we can expect that when we have a Republican president, people will stop blaming the president for pain they are experiencing at the local level? Good luck with that, Mitt.

Second, as he argued earlier this week, Romney would argue that cutting government spending at the state and local level is what the people want, even if that means that firefighters would take longer to reach their burning houses, or class sizes at their local schools would increase. And then he would find out if that really was the message of Wisconsin.

Third, Romney tries to make the case that having the federal government provide assistance to state and local governments would not work, because it did not work in the 2009 stimulus. Try telling that to all of the governors and state legislatures that have acknowledged how much harder it would have been to make ends meet had they not received help from the federal government in 2009. And also remember that the part of the 2009 stimulus that was substantially cut back, in order to gain the three Republican votes in the Senate that were needed to pass the stimulus, was proposed help to state governments. That is one of the main reasons we have been seeing so many cutbacks at the state and local level. That is one of the main reasons unemployment remains stubbornly high. And that is also why the Obama administration has been fighting so hard ever since then to provide more help to allow state and local governments to retain vitally-needed firefighters, teachers, police officers and other public sector employees.

 (Thanks to Jed Lewison's post this morning, and to the Obama campaign for getting this clip out. They watch Fox and Friends so I don't have to.)

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