Romney Walks Back "Peacetime" Spending Claim

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 25 2011 5:08 PM

Romney Walks Back "Peacetime" Spending Claim

Greg Sargent and Steve Benen have had some fun today with this claim in Mitt Romney's new op-ed.

Barack Obama is facing a financial emergency on a grander scale. Yet his approach has been to engage in one of the biggest peacetime spending binges in American history. With its failed stimulus package, its grandiose new social programs, its fervor for more taxes and government regulations, and its hostility toward business, the administration has made the debt problem worse, hindered economic recovery and needlessly cost American workers countless jobs.

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That word "peacetime" doesn't really jibe, does it? Team Romney has an explanation for that: It was a mistake.

"He meant to say since World War II," said Romney's PAC spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, in an e-mail.

And that makes perfect sense to me. Romney's talking about domestic spending. There's no mention of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan in the column. While we absolve him, however, let us pause and consider the weirdness that others display when they talk about the budget. One reason why a balanced budget was an achievable goal in the 1990s was that defense spending was shrinking relative to GDP , and the United States wasn't at war for most of the decade. To balanced the budget in 2011 means balancing it in wartime, something I don't think any civilization has been able to do. (Hittite experts, help me out on this one.) And I think only Gary Johnson, who wants to end the wars and close military bases, is suggesting an immediate balancing of the budget.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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