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Romney's take on economy clashes with Wisconsin governor's

April 01, 2012|By Michael Finnegan
  • Republican Presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a town hall style meeting in Middleton, Wisconsin.
Republican Presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney… (Justin Sullivan / Getty…)

Reporting frmo Pewaukee, Wis. —

To Mitt Romney, the economy is in a shambles. To fellow Republican Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, it is a glowing success.

Romney and Walker offered clashing portraits of the economy at a Waukesha County GOP dinner on Saturday.

It was a jarring display of how political imperatives can lead candidates of the same party to examine the same set of facts and reach wildly different conclusions that suit their needs for an upcoming election.

Facing a June recall vote sparked by his fight with unions of government workers, Walker cast himself as the governor whose fiscal restraint has turned Wisconsin’s economy around.

“The unemployment rate is now below 7% for the first time since 2008,” he boasted. “We’re headed in the right direction.”

Walker said he would be “almost a slam dunk for reelection,” were he not the target of “union bosses” battling to keep power.

“We helped to improve the economy by understanding the people create jobs, not the government, making it easier for the people of our state to create more jobs,” he told the hundreds of Republicans gathered in a hotel ballroom.

Moments later, Romney stepped onto the same stage and -- after the requisite tribute to Walker -- offered his bleak description of America’s economy.

“We know that under Barack Obama, 800,000 jobs have been lost,” said Romney, a candidate in the Wisconsin presidential primary on Tuesday. “We know that under Barack Obama, 2.3 million homes have been foreclosed upon. We know that under this president, chronic unemployment is the worst it’s been in American history.”

Romney acknowledged the nation’s recent job gains, but told the crowd to keep in mind that Obama’s main economic stimulus measure “expired three years ago.” (The $787-billion stimulus package did not expire three years ago; Obama signed it into law in February 2009.)

“The recovery you’re seeing is in spite of his stimulus, not because of it,” Romney said. “His stimulus failed the American people.”

The Wisconsin and national jobs numbers offer ample opportunity for political spin, always in abundant supply in this presidential battleground.

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is 6.9% -- down from its 9.2% peak in January 2010 and below the 8.3% national rate, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But Wisconsin’s recovery has been uneven, with a slight drop in private-sector jobs since Walker took office in January 2011.

Nationally, the unemployment rate shot up from its 4.4% low in May 2007 to 7.8% when Obama took office in January 2009, then up further to its 10% peak in October 2009. Since then, it has dropped back to 8.3%.

As for the number of jobs, the nation lost nearly 4.5 million during the year before Obama’s inauguration, then an additional 4.3 million during Obama’s first year in office. Since February 2010, the country has regained 3.5 million jobs.

Original source: Romney's take on economy clashes with Gov. Scott Walker's

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