$787 billion of borrowing. It could have been entirely focused on getting getting the private sector to buy capital equipment, for instance. That puts people to work. Or to hire people. Instead, it primary protected people in the governmental sector, which is probably the sector that should have been shrinking.Aside from the irony of Romney attacking the stimulus at an institution that benefited from it, his remarks reveal the contrived nature of his attack on the stimulus.
For starters, Romney basically got what he says he wanted. Over the last two years, the private sector has added 4 million jobs while the public sector has lost more than 500,000. That shrinkage of the public sector has been the biggest economic problems we've faced during that time. The problem is that state and local governments have faced a funding shortfall thanks to declining revenue, and because the stimulus—and subsequent jobs legislation—didn't do enough to help them bridge the gap, they were forced to shrink.
In February, Romney himself implicitly acknowledged that this is a problem:
"If you just cut, if all you're thinking about doing is cutting spending, as you cut spending you'll slow down the economy," he said.But despite that fleeting concession to reality, Romney's official position is still that the proper response to recession is to cut government spending. Earlier in February, Romney had visited a Colorado metal company to make exactly that point ... but like Otterbein, the company had also received funding through the stimulus.
But it's not like every place Mitt Romney visits to slam the stimulus has received stimulus funds. Earlier this month, he gave a speech at a factory in Ohio that hadn't received stimulus support. Of course, the factory was closed—and it had closed under George W. Bush. Naturally, Romney blamed President Obama, even though the factory produced drywall, for which there won't be much demand until new housing construction starts growing again. And the reason Obama was to blame? The stimulus.
So when Mitt Romney visits an institution or business that's doing well and received support from the stimulus, then the stimulus was bad. And when Mitt Romney visits a business that closed under Bush, the the stimulus was bad. And when Mitt Romney says the stimulus should have focused on the private sector and allowed the government sector to shrink and it turns out that's what has happened, then the stimulus is still bad.
So what would Mitt Romney have done? Well, here's what he said in December, 2008 (my emphasis):
The Fed should continue to expand the money supply. And, it should confirm that it will not tolerate deflation — the pain of inflation pales in comparison.So yes. What Mitt Romney wanted was a stimulus. Which he now says is the worst thing ever.
That being said, a stimulus plan is needed without further delay, and there are some things that Republicans should insist on.
[...] The Democrats may want to wait for Obama, but the country needs action now. Republicans can — and must — play an important role in shaping a stimulus bill that makes sense for America and lays a foundation for future prosperity and growth.