Democrats and the Obama campaign are pouncing on this article in the New Hampshire Union Leader reporting that the business owner who appeared in Mitt Romney’s ad bashing Obama received help getting loans — and defense contracts — via the federal government.
The business owner, Jack Gilchrist, is featured in the Romney ad hitting Obama for allegedly claiming that business owners “didn’t build” their own businesses.
According to the Union Leader, Gilchrist received $800,000 in tax exempt revenue bonds issued by the state to build a plant — bonds that are partly supported by the federal government — and also received several recent Navy and Coast Guard contracts.
Gilchrist told the paper that the bonds were ultimately a “loser” for the company because of associated legal fees. But he insisted that his acceptance of defense contracts didn't conflict with his criticism of Obama’s comments. And this from Gilchrist jumps out:
“Defense business is a good way to help the economy. But the President wants to cut the crap out of the defense budget.”
That would appear to mean that the star of Romney’s ad believes federal spending — on defense, at least — is good for the economy. That would make him a “weaponized Keynesian,” i.e., someone that does believe federal spending creates jobs and is good for businesses, but will only say so when it concerns defense.
I asked Gilchrist himself — a personable guy who seemed to enjoy bantering with someone he disagreed with — whether he thinks federal spending is good for the economy. He allowed that spending on roads and bridges does, in fact, create jobs, and said he supports federal spending on at least maintaining them.
“If we’re going to spend money on roads and bridges, certainly keeping them in good condition is prudent, and it’s certainly putting people to work,” Gilchrist said. “Obviously if people are fixing things, then they’re working.”
But he said he disagrees with Obama’s emphasis on spending for more infrastructure. “If the government is going to put money into jobs like that, let’s create oportunities that are long lasting in the global marketplace,” he said, citing defense products as an example. “There’s a lot of long lasting stuff in the defense industry as far as marketability goes.”
In fairness to Gilchrist, he says his company is twice removed from the actual defense contracts — it’s down the chain from the bigger companies that actually contract with the federal government. But he still sometimes benefits from these contracts. “I’m still exposed to the opportunities,” he said.