First, the original statement: At a campaign stop last Friday Romney seized on President Obama’s controversial statement that the private sector is “fine” and that employment as a whole is soft because public sector jobs are down.
Romney said of Mr. Obama that “he says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.”
Generally speaking, Republicans are for smaller government at all levels. But they don’t typically move on to imply that the nation needs fewer of its more popular types of public servants – particularly those involved in public safety.
Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who just survived a recall attempt sparked by his bill that stripped many public sector workers of bargaining rights, made just that distinction. Police and firefighters were exempt from his cutbacks.
That’s why Governor Walker distanced himself from Romney’s remarks in an appearance Sunday on CBS’s "Face the Nation." His crackdown “allowed us to protect firefighters, police officers, and teachers. That’s not what I think of when I think of big government.”
Now, Romney is literally correct to say that Washington doesn’t hire firefighters, etc. Those are local or state employees.
But Obama’s stimulus bills contained billions in subsidies for state and local government to keep their employees on the job. Much of that stimulus spending has run out, which is one reason why public sector employment is declining.