James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

Did Romney flip-flop on TARP?

September 21, 2009

OK, here is what the front runner (at least according to the online betting markets) for the 2012 GOP nomination said at the Value Voters summit over the weekend:

When government is trying to take over health care, buying car companies, bailing out banks, and giving half the White House staff the title of czar – we have every good reason to be alarmed and to speak our mind!

Now that does sounds like a repudiation of TARP. And here is what Mitt Romney told me in March:

The TARP program, while not transparent and not having been used as wisely it should have been, was nevertheless necessary to keep banks from collapsing in a cascade of failures. You cannot have a free economy and free market if there is not a financial system. … The TARP program was designed to keep the financial system going, to keep money circulating in the economy, without which the entire economy stops and you would really have an economic collapse.

Now that does sound like an endorsement of TARP.  If Romney liked it then and doesn’t like it now for policy reasons, I think that is OK. But if that is the case, he should explain is reasoning and change of mind.

Of course, the cynical explanation is that Romney now realizes that among many conservative GOPers, endorsement of TARP is almost a disqualifier for the 2012 nomination. So he is trying to muddy his support a bit. Probably the best way to approach it is to say that while TARP was better than doing nothing, there were better alternatives — asset auctions, debt swaps — that should have been planned for after Bear Stearns and executed. In any event, his criticism of TARP is fairly mild here — though it certainly does raise the issue of serial flip-floppery.

Comments

Mitt DID NOT flip-flop. Mitt supported TARP because the alternative of doing nothing at the time was far worse. With that in mind, TARP has been used in ways it was not created to be used in and is now a terrible mess. Mitt never supported the way TARP was used and didn’t support it doing anything besides stopping the credit market from completely freezing which would’ve caused the economy to crumble within days. Anyone who has ever run a business knows how much business relies on short-term loans for things like payroll. If a business can’t get those loans, they are forced by law to go bankrupt and our economy was on the verge of a massive collapse like that. Mitt being an adult and doing the right but unpopular think back then is a big reason why I know he will make a great president!

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive
 

O.K. James….love you….but really if the term “flip-flop” is used one more time to describe any politicians change of position, softening of rheotric, unfilled campaign promises or downright lies about how your going to lead this nation (Obama I think you know how many times we could use this against you regarding your governing) I’m going to hurl.

The term is in “wardrobe malfunction” territory for it’s overuse and any political writer that continues to use “the double f” term is at risk of sophistry.

Posted by sheryl | Report as abusive
 

The ‘flip flop’ label has losing its potency with Mitt.
He has invaluable business experience, and has always handled himself with class and dignity. All his speeches and tv appearances convey the opposite of what the indecisive ‘flip flop’ label insues.

When you think of Mitt Romney, you think of someone who is steady, focused and competent.

Since he can’t be attacked personaly or professionaly, the media will start to get desperate as to how to attack him.

Ultimately, an attack on his religion won’t work. There are too many Mormons who happen to be good people, and they convey a positive image. In other words, the cult label will wither away like the ‘flip flop’ label.

Posted by ellie | Report as abusive
 

Come off it. The man’s a mess with a permanent case of finger-in-the-wind syndrome.

“When you think of Mitt Romney, you think of someone who is steady, focused and competent.”

… who are you thinking of? I give up.

Posted by Brian | Report as abusive
 

“When you think of Mitt Romney, you think of someone who is steady, focused and competent.”

I approve of that comment.

As for flip-flopping, this sounds like a case of headline-baiting. Are you a journalist or a seller of headlines?

Thanks for the contrast, however. In both cases, Mitt showed his intelligence and ability to communicate economic intricacies other candidates (and the President) can’t.

 

Because you support TARP does not mean you have to support everything that was done with TARP funds. The auto bailouts are a case in point. Romney was opposed to using TARP funds for the purpose writing a check to the car companies. Give the guy a break!! Because he supports TARP, he has to support the way every dollar was spent?

That’s like saying, “Romney says he’s opposed to the increasing budget deficit, but he supports spending on domestic priorities.”

There is no contradiction here, not at all.

Posted by bill | Report as abusive
 

Mutiple Choice Mitt… is this even surprising anymore.

Don’t get suckered into thinking this is ok because your politician of choice just being cynical and saying things to get elected. If they are this weak on the trail, then they will be just as weak in office. And then they will be DOING things to get REelected.

Posted by Derek | Report as abusive
 

Wow!!
Plenty of repub support in the comment area. I’ll never be surprised at a politician flipping on a position. On one hand I admire a guy who recognizes when he’s wrong and changes course. On the other hand, politicians seldom admit that the course change came about because of flawed thinking. They do seem to want it both ways. An option not available to me over the years.

As an independent, these days the repubs give damn little to admire. How they manage to keep so many meat puppets in their camp is amazing to me. That sucking noise we all hear is the sound of repubs scrambling to buddy up with their corporate owners along with our manufacturing jobs going where the wages are low and regulation even lower. Thanks to the loyalty leadership has to cash, the slogan ought to be “God help America”, not “God bless America.”

Posted by RH Pyle | Report as abusive
 

ellie you made me laugh, a really good and hearty laugh, flip flopp is a perfect description of Romney, along with weak leadership, and a desperate need for political power, which makes his opinions blow in the direction of any political post Romney is wanting.

Romneys faith will remain an undertow for him, and the south will not buy into the Romney BVD’s.

Posted by D.Fishcher | Report as abusive
 

“ut Romney will say anything in any particular order in order to pander. There’s something quite refreshing about his open refusal to have any principles, or even to worry about the slightest consistency between one statement and the next. (Yes, as Dave Weigel notes, he backed bailing the banks out at the time.) Alas, the only thing less credible than Mitt Romney as a Christianist is Mitt Romney as a populist”

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/th e_daily_dish/2009/09/he-aims-to-please.h tml

Yes, Mitt is as refreshing as a Snake in a Suit. Like most psychopaths there is never a worry about the slightest consistency between one statement and the next.

Posted by D.Fishcher | Report as abusive
 

Yes, Romney was great at the Olympics, he only got in trouble with the police several times by going off on them, and cussing. Get over the Olympics. No other person who has headed the Olympics has gone on, and on, and on about it. Romney is like some kid to got to be prom queen and cannot grow up and get over it.

The Olympics when on because Americans, not Mitt, wanted our nation to not lose complete face from Mormon corruption.

Posted by D.Fishcher | Report as abusive
 

Hello. I used my real name when commenting on an article posted 9/21 by Mr. James Pethokoukis, “Did Romney flip-flop on TARP?” I posted my comment on 9/24. It’s been seen on Google and I don’t want 100 percent of the people who know me to see it. I should have used my initials. Will you please delete my comment? I hold Reuters in the highest esteem and I respect your organization so much and I’ll be more careful in the future. Please and thank you!

Posted by JM | Report as abusive
 

“When you think of Mitt Romney, you think of someone who is steady, focused and competent.”

I approve of that comment.

As for flip-flopping, this sounds like a case of headline-baiting. Are you a journalist or a seller of headlines?

Thanks for the contrast, however. In both cases, Mitt showed his intelligence and ability to communicate economic intricacies other candidates (and the President) can’t.

Posted by Jed Merrill | Report as abusive
 

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