ThinkProgress filed this report from a campaign event in Litchfield, New Hampshire.
Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) continued to paint himself as the Republican Party’s best “jobs candidate” today in New Hampshire, telling crowds that President Obama’s policies have stalled economic recovery and that he had the experience necessary to create jobs and turn the economy around.
In doing so, however, he outlined a policy that would have — and is having — the opposite effect. Romney promised that, as president, he would cut federal workers’ pay and slash the number of federal government jobs:
ROMNEY: Federal employees, we’ve got too many of them, and they’re paid too much. In many cases, they do a good job, we respect the work that they do, it’s important work that they do. We just have too many.
Government workers make for politically expedient targets, particularly in rough economic times. But Romney’s argument that federal workers are paid more than private sector workers distorts the facts. At the top end of the pay scale, federal workers are often paid less than their private sector counterparts, so much so that the government has “found it increasingly more difficult to attract and retain high-skill workers.” If Romney wanted to bring federal pay in line with the private sector as he suggested, he’d have to provide many government workers a raise.
Romney’s claims that there are “too many” government jobs, meanwhile, ignores the state of the American jobs crisis. While the private sector continues to grow (albeit slowly), federal, state, and local governments have shed more than 500,000 jobs in the last two years, negating the positive effects of private sector growth and dragging down the economic recovery. If public sector employment was at its 2009 level, the unemployment rate would be 8.4 percent, considerably lower than the 9.1 percent it stands at now.
Romney, who constantly reminds voters of his private sector experience, may not view government workers as participants in what he calls the “real economy.” But as Matt Yglesias notes, the effects of government job losses mirror those of private sector losses, as “the sharply reduced incomes of the former teachers and whatnot lead to them spending less in their local communities,” thus slowing economic growth.