Mitt Romney pledged Wednesday that if elected president he will drive down unemployment to 6 percent or lower by the end of his first term.
Romney has made the promise at least once before, at a North Las Vegas truck dealership in September, but he has rarely given voters such a specific figure to which he could be held accountable. The guarantee is also notable because Romney has repeatedly claimed President Obama broke a promise to hold the jobless rate under 8 percent. Romney’s 6 percent promise bears the appearance of bold one-upsmanship.
But even if the presumptive Republican nominee were to win the White House and keep his word on unemployment, he might not be able to claim full credit for the success. Five days before Romney first said he would lower unemployment to 5.9 percent in North Las Vegas, the Office of Management and Budget projected the country is already on track for a sub-6 jobless rate in 2016 — a fact the Obama campaign jumped on quickly.
“What I think was interesting about this is that Romney moved the goal post in just a matter of weeks. He said that he was going to get it down to 4 percent several weeks ago,’’ said Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt. When a May 4 labor report showed the national unemployment rate at 8.1 percent, Romney said “anything over 4 percent is not cause for celebration.’’
“Now he’s at 6 percent,’’ LaBolt continued, “and he’s already moved the goal post on a critical promise that he has made. The second question is how he gets to 6 percent without supporting the programs that the president has put on the table to create jobs now.’’
Romney made the 6 percent pledge Wednesday in a taped interview with Time magazine political analyst Mark Halperin, who asked if Romney could pinpoint the unemployment rate at the end of his first year in office.
“I can’t possibly predict precisely what the unemployment rate will be at the end of one year,’’ Romney replied. “I can tell you that over a period of four years, by virtue of the policies that we put in place, we’d get the unemployment rate down to 6 percent or perhaps a little lower,’’ he said. “It depends in part upon the rate of growth for the globe, as well as what we’re seeing here in the United States. But we’d get the rate down quite substantially. And quite frankly, the key is we are going to show such job growth that there will be competition for employees again, and wages will see the end of this decline.’’