When Mitt Romney was elected governor of Massachusetts back in 2003, he inherited a fiscal calamity not unlike the one that faced Barack Obama in 2009.
Prominent members of the GOP, and even a sitting president, urged Romney to clean up the mess left behind by his predecessor, a fellow Republican, and acting governor from 2001 to 2003, Jane Swift.
As Boston.com reports, Romney quickly stepped up to the plate, calling himself a "CEO governor," and pledging to use the business acumen he acquired from years in the private sector to do for the Commonwealth what he did for the Olympics.
Interestingly, Mr. Romney called upon the same forces as governor as he did when he ran the Olympics -- taxpayers.
There are some things about Mr. Romney that haven't changed from 2003 until now. I suspect, asking taxpayers to pick up the tab is one of them.
Not only did candidate Governor Romney tout his private sector experience, but he emphasized his ability to get federal funds to help Massachusetts the same way he procured federal funds to help the Olympics. The Washington Post reports on what it terms Romney's "complicated relationship with federal funding": "As governor of Massachusetts, Romney requested millions in federal earmarks for state transportation projects. He once boasted about his prowess at winning taxpayer money."
But, surely this can't be the same Romney who decried states accepting stimulus money, or allowing the auto industry to be bailed out by the federal government?
Is this the same fellow, as The Washington Post also reports, who joked back in 2006, "I'd be embarrassed if I didn't always ask for federal money whenever I got the chance." Yes, it is.
Mr. Romney is running on exactly the same platform as he ran on 2003, and he's probably even wearing the same shoes. That's right, Mitt Romney is running on the Mr. Fiscal Fix-It platform, and he will doubtlessly call upon the same private industry advisers he called upon back then. Yes, I know, the Obama administration has Geithner, but you can bet the team Romney assembles will be Geithner on steroids.
Savor the irony: The candidate for president who wants all the media focus in the remaining days of a hotly contested race to be on the economy and not on little side dishes like Richard Mourdock is the one who not only found himself in the same situation as the current president, but who left the state of Massachusetts with the same anti-climactic recovery in which we find ourselves today. Go figure, so Mr. Fix-It won't fix it after all. What's more, Mr. Fix-It will have no federal government from whom to borrow the funds needed to close his $3 billion budget deficit.
Is this the same Romney who wants to come to the rescue of the U.S. economy now?
A cursory peek at the state of the Massachusetts economy when Gov. Romney left office back in 2007 will reveal that, not only didn't Mr. Romney fix the fiscal mess he inherited, but he actually made things worse.
When Romney took the helm back in 2003, Massachusetts was in 36th place out of 50 states in job creation. When he left office, in 2007, Massachusetts was in 47th place.
Apart from taking federal funds, according to Boston.com, Romney balanced the budget by "cutting state aid to cities and towns."
While campaigning for governor, Romney promised to be second to none in job creation, but during his tenure, Massachusetts job growth was 20 percent of the national average. State unemployment fell, but that might be because somewhere around 4 percent of the population left town. Whatever job growth Mitt Romney can take credit for has been described as being at best "anemic."
Things are far from perfect over in Obama country, but the economy is trending in the right direction. According to The New York Times, economic growth rose to 2 percent this quarter from 1.3 percent last quarter, a decisive upturn; housing starts are up, retail sales are up, consumer confidence is up, and the unemployment rate is at the lowest level it has been since Mr. Obama took office.
No one is going to guarantee that we're talking about a situation of economic 'problem solved' in 2016 with Obama at the wheel, but this isn't just about the numbers: It's about the trend, and things are trending up. From listening to Mr. Romney's sales pitch, one would think the country is heading over a cliff, towards the apocalypse, or Greece. And, at the end of the day, it's not Mr. Romney's ignorance that's troubling. It's his comfort level with ignorance that is.