During his current campaign for the presidency, Mitt Romney has been desperately trying to shed his image as an elite millionaire out of touch with the concerns of average Americans. He’s ditched his business wardrobe and now tries to look like a man-of-the-people in jeans and plaid shirts.
Romney’s also made some laughable claims trying to relate to voters, telling a group of unemployed people that he’s “also unemployed.” But far from sympathizing with the plight of the jobless, on Monday Romney promised to put even more people out of work by cutting 10 percent of the federal workforce if elected. He even complained that government employees make more than he does:
Multimillionaire Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (R) told employees at a steel fabrication plant on Monday that government employees “are making a lot more money than we are.”
Wearing his best plaid work shirt and Tommy Bahama blue jeans, the candidate explained to workers at Giese Manufacturing that he would slash the number of federal employees if elected.
“We have to cut back on the scale of the federal government,” Romney declared. “And for me that will start by reducing federal employees by 10 percent. You do that through attrition.”
“And then something else that is just as important, and that’s to make sure the people who work for government don’t get better pay and better benefits than people that work in the private sector.”
More importantly, Romney’s claims about the salaries of public versus private sector employees are patently false. As ThinkProgress’ Travis Waldron recently reported, public sector employees are underpaid compared to their private sector counterparts.
The proposal to cut 10 percent of the federal workforce (or nearly 500,000 jobs) when 14 million Americans are already out of work illustrates Romney’s misguided public policy. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) authored a bill to do just that last month, and although both men say those jobs would be eliminated “through attrition,” the language and short timeline make it obvious that only mass layoffs could accomplish their goal.
At least 600,000 government workers have lost their jobs since the recession began, but Romney and other Republicans keep scapegoating public employees who have shouldered more than their fair share of economic pain during the Great Recession.
In fact, massive job losses in the public sector are dragging down the recovery and keeping national unemployment higher than it needs to be. According to the New York Times’ David Leonhardt, if state and local governments had continued to hire at their previous pace, they would have added half a million jobs to the economy. In other words, government austerity have “has cost the economy about one million jobs.”