Does Mitt Romney Want Fewer Teachers?

He Says No, but His Own Campaign, and Comments He Made to Wisconsin and Pennsylvania Say Otherwise

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | In an interview with Fox News, Mitt Romney says it's "completely absurd" to suggest he wants to cut back on the number of teachers, firefighters and police officers around the country. Yet his campaign spokesman said something completely different. He also undercut himself with statements about the Walker recall election, as well as comments about class size in Pennsylvania.

Romney insisted the federal government doesn't hire teachers, firefighters and police officers. Yet federal aid money is used to pay their salaries, and cuts in those grants means layoffs, as Holly Bailey with The Ticket pointed out.

At a press conference earlier in Salt Lake City, Utah, Romney told reporters President Barack Obama "wants another stimulus, he wants to hire more government workers… He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It's time for us to cut back on government and help the American people."

Last month at a Philadelphia suburb school, Romney made a point of saying that America did not need smaller class sizes. Countering charges that small class sizes help students, he cited a quote from a report claiming that small class sizes did not matter, ignoring the rest of the report, which explained the ways small classes do matter.

Moreover, campaign spokesman John Sununu (Bush Sr.'s former chief-of-staff), defended the need to cut teachers. According to Chris Moody with "The Ticket" Sununu backed Romney's comments to the hilt, saying that there was "wisdom" in his words that we need fewer teachers, firefighters and police officers.

On the MSNBC show "Jansing & Co.," Sununu claimed that some areas have lost population, and therefore could do better by shedding teachers, cops, and firefighters. In other cases, technology could do the trick, creating more "efficiency." That probably means more on-line classes for students, though I'm not sure that's better, or even a solution for community security. Imagine this future response: "If your house is on fire, press one. If you house is being attacked, press two. Enter your Social Security Number, followed by the pound sign…"

Sununu called Romney's comments anything but a gaffe. "There may be others who run away from those comments, but I'm going to tell you that there are places where just pumping money in to add to the public payroll is not what the taxpayers of this country want."

So does Romney really want fewer teachers? It's not clear from his remarks. It looks like we're seeing another Massachusetts presidential candidate in full flip-flop mode.

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