Mitt Romney, in a speech in Colorado today:
“Now his campaign these days is trying to find a twig to hang on to, some little excuse they can grab and say, ‘Look, things are getting a little better, aren’t they?’ And the answer is yeah, things are getting a little better in a lot of places in this country, but it’s not thanks to his policies.”
“It’s in spite of his policies. You see, every recession ultimately comes to an end, but you’d expect that this deep recession might come back to an aggressive turnaround, but it didn’t happen.”
As best as I can determine, that is Romney’s most explicit declaration yet that Obama’s policies deserve no credit whatsoever for the recovery that Romney kinda sorta acknowledges is underway.
Now here is Romney in January of 2009, in response to a question about Obama’s push for a stimulus plan:
“I think there is need for economic stimulus. Americans have lost about $11 trillion in net worth. That translates into about $400 billion a year less spending that they’ll be doing, and that’s net of additional government programs like Medicaid and unemployment insurance. And government can help make that up in a very difficult time. And that’s one of the reasons why I think a stimulus program is needed.
“I’d move quickly. These are unusual times. But it has to be something which relieves pressure on middle-income families. I think a tax cut is necessary for them as well as for businesses that are growing. We’ll be investing in infrastructure and in energy technologies. But let’s not make this a Christmas tree of all of the favors for various politicians who have helped out the Obama campaign, giving them special projects.”
That is not an endorsement of Obama’s specific stimulus plan. But it is an endorsement of stimulus spending in general. Yet today, according to Romney, the only function Obama’s stimulus spending has served is as an impediment to the recovery.
More broadly, Romney’s positions on these matters have now become ridiculously incoherent. The other day Romney claimed rather casually in an interview with Mark Halperin that he would never think of cutting government spending too dramatically, because, why, that would risk throwing us back into a recession or a depression! As Jon Chait noted, in saying that Romney basically admitted, if accidentally, that his whole case against Obama — that his spending deepened the economic crisis — is thoroughly bogus. And yet, here he is again today, saying that stimulus spending impeded the recovery.
So, again: Isn’t it time to ask Romney what he would have done as president in January of 2009? Is he really going to tell reporters with a straight face that he wouldn’t have pushed for some stimulus spending to rescue an economy in free fall?