Watters: Romney’s jobs negativity rubs the wrong way

Arabella Watters, Assistant Forum Editor

When the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly jobs report Friday, I felt an odd sense of conflict. I should have been ecstatic that the economy might finally be looking up. Contrary to some theories out there, numbers don’t lie, and the unemployment rate has finally dropped below 8 percent.

For most conservatives, no matter how good the news, the knee-jerk reaction is to disapprove of economic improvement because it’s President Obama who’s making headway. Away from my partisan opinions, all I am is proud. Disturbingly of late, I’ve found my beliefs as an American clashing with the loyalty that I’m supposed to have to my political party.

There’s a disconnect between what we should want as voters and what we should want as people concerned about the well-being of our country. Mitt Romney’s actions as a presidential candidate exemplify this chasm in spades.

There is a lot that President Obama promised that he hasn’t achieved. He didn’t slash the deficit in half and he didn’t bring unemployment down to 5.6 percent like he promised. However, he has brought down unemployment from its recessionary peak of 10.2 percent in October 2009. The numbers are staring Romney in the face and yet he has the audacity to deny them, just to further his run with the Republican Party.

When Romney came out a few days ago saying in response to the jobs report that, “The truth is, if the same share of people were participating in the work force today as on the day the president got elected, our unemployment rate would be around 11 percent,” I found I was annoyed by his words.

If the labor force was at the same number it was in 2009, unemployment would indeed be at nearly 11 percent. But Romney misstates the cause of this trend. While some are leaving the labor force out of desperation like he implies, in reality the labor force has been shrinking since Bill Clinton’s presidency as members of the Baby Boomer generation begin to retire.  Romney is just chasing his tail trying to make a number that is indicative of clear improvement convoluted and negative.

The dismal economy is terrifying enough as it is, and there is no need — no matter how badly Romney wants to get elected, sympathize with his voters or save the middle class — for him to misconstrue the truth. Romney is not the only politician to do this; Obama himself is a master of clever oratory and twisted words, but it doesn’t make it any more acceptable. I’m just disappointed. The high I felt watching Romney show his humanity during the Colorado debate has quickly dissipated.

Arabella Watters is a Medill sophomore. She can be reached at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, email a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].