HAMPTON, N.H. (AP) — Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney added another layer to his criticism of President Barack Obama’s handling of the economy, saying Tuesday that Obama made the recession “deeper and longer than it needed to be.”
In announcing his bid for the Republican nomination last month, the former Massachusetts governor said of Obama, “When he took office, the economy was in recession. He made it worse. And he made it last longer.” Last week, he said, “I didn’t say that things are worse,” but over the weekend he returned to saying “the recession is deeper because of our president.”
Though unemployment has worsened under Obama, the recession officially ended six months into his presidency. Obama has said U.S. innovation and adaptation will help the economy rebound with more gusto.
Romney said Tuesday the economic recovery has been “anemic.”
“We have not created the jobs as we should have. It has way underperformed the recovery that was seen under President Reagan,” Romney told a group of about 20 New Hampshire business and community leaders at a Hampton restaurant. “I want to see industries coming back to this country, businesses opening doors, businesses expanding, people being hired, being given good jobs, wages rising. These are all the features of the kind of economy that would say, `Hey, America’s on the right track again.”‘
Romney said that a few years ago Obama said Democrats measure the success of an economy by whether people can find work, save money and go to college. On that basis, Romney said, Obama “hasn’t been successful.”
Obama, who took office in January 2009, has been trying to elevate his profile on the economy recently with trips to key election states to highlight job creation initiatives, but Romney said the president hasn’t done enough.
“He needs to go back and say, `We made some mistakes,”‘ Romney said. “Things aren’t getting better for the American people.”
Romney outlined his solutions, among them lowering tax rates, cutting and simplifying banking and environmental regulations, promoting domestic oil and natural gas exploration and investing in “human capital” by improving schools and promoting job training programs.
He also stressed the need to bargain harder for American interests in international trade. He singled out China, which he accused of routinely pirating U.S. intellectual property, designs, patents, technology and software.
“So,” he said, “that’s got to end.”
Among the guests seated around Romney were business owners, local lawmakers, an attorney and a sheriff. Several stressed the importance of having a presidential administration that understands the needs of entrepreneurs and that can inspire their confidence.
Fred Rice, who owns a company that distributes equipment for capturing methane gas from landfills, blamed overregulation from the Environmental Protection Agency and a skittish loan market for dampening his business.
Rice, who also is a state representative, said his customers, including private waste companies and municipalities, struggle with frequent changes to the rules about what equipment they must use.
“If they could expand their landfills without so many obtrusive regulations that EPA puts on them,,” said Rice, of Hampton, “a lot more people would buy my stuff.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)