Romney Promises To Bring Unemployment Down To 6%

By: CNN Posted By: Stephanie Schultz
By: CNN Posted By: Stephanie Schultz

(CNN) -- After repeatedly pinning the president for the unemployment level, which now sits at 8.1%, Mitt Romney pledged he could cut the rate by two points if he makes it to the White House.

"I can tell you that over a period of four years, by virtue of the policies that we'd put in place, we'd get the unemployment rate down to 6%, and perhaps a little lower," the presumptive GOP nominee said in a TIME interview published Wednesday.

The number marked the first time Romney had talked about a specific rate during this election cycle, although he listed 5.9% as the number he would strive for in his 59-point economic plan released in September.

And economic forecasts suggest he may not be too far off. Based on the current rate of growth, the jobless rate is expected to fall to around 7% by the end of 2015, and 5.5% by the end of 2017, according to reports by the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Romney has used the unemployment rate as a main line of attack against President Barack Obama. His campaign frequently points to a 2009 interview in which the president said if his administration could not get the economy turned around in three years, "then there is going to be a one-term proposition."

At the worst of the recession, the unemployment rate reached 10% in October 2009, nine months after Obama took office. It has gradually dropped to its current rate at just over 8%, though some experts attribute the lower rate to the fact that more Americans are leaving the workforce.

The CBO expects the rate to remain above 8% for the rest of this year and next year.

In a conference call Wednesday, Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt pointed to those predictions in criticizing Romney's statement.

"Government economists have been clear that under current law their projection today is that unemployment will hit 6% by that point," LaBolt said.

He went on to cite recent remarks in which Romney, chiding the president for his job creation record, said any unemployment figure above 4% was not worth celebrating.

"What I think was interesting about this is that Romney moved goal posts in a matter of weeks," LaBolt said. "He said he was going to get it down to 4% several weeks ago, now he's at 6%, he's already moved the goal posts on a critical promise he made."

In his previous remarks, Romney did not explicitly say he would reduce the unemployment rate to 4%. At a campaign stop in Pittsburgh in May, he said "anything over 8%, anything near 8%, anything over 4% is not cause for celebration."


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