Republican Presidential presumptive nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign last week stepped up its attacks on President Obama for the 2009 effort to revive the economy with stimulus spending. A Romney aide told Politico that the plan was “the mother of all earmarks, not a jobs plan,” and that “he spent $800 billion of everybody’s money. How’d it work out?”
But Romney himself didn’t oppose government stimulus entirely. In a 2008 op-ed in National Review, Romney called for a Republican stimulus package. Romney argued for additional tax cuts, but also more government spending on infrastructure, the military, and research.
On the spending front, infrastructure projects should be a high priority. But because infrastructure projects involve engineering, environmental studies, permitting and contracting, they can take a long time to actually boost the economy. Spending to refurbish and modernize our military equipment is urgently needed, and it has a more immediate impact on the economy. A great deal of our armament was damaged or lost in the Middle East, and the rest is long overdue for maintenance.
Romney also called for funding research to make America energy independent.
We should also invest to free us from our dependence on foreign oil, not by playing venture capitalist, but by funding basic research in renewables, material science, combustion, nuclear reprocessing, and the like. During the 2008 campaign, virtually every candidate agreed on the need for an “Apollo-like mission” to achieve energy independence. Now is the time to start.
Romney made similar comments in January 2009 to Wolf Blitzer, saying that because of the huge losses in the financial crisis, government would have to “help make that up in a very difficult time. And that’s one of the reasons why I think a stimulus program is needed.”
Romney added he hoped the government “we’ll be investing in infrastructure and in energy technologies,” but said that “let’s not make this a Christmas tree of all of the favors for various politicians who have helped out the Obama campaign”
Romney’s previous support of government spending to stimulate the economy as part of an overall stimulate package doesn’t mean Romney supported Obama’s 700 billion package, but it is a reminder of the complexity, and urgency, fo the 2009 debate over reviving the moribund U.S. economy.