Political Animal


December 07, 2011 4:25 PM A ‘limited understanding of the economy’

By Steve Benen

This exchange, from Mitt Romney’s chat with the editorial board of the Washington Examiner, seems like the sort of thing that might come back to haunt the former governor.

TIM CARNEY: The European Union might be on the verge of an economic meltdown and the U.S. is already getting involved at least indirectly. They opened the Fed window. The IMF, which we heavily fund, is sending money their way. Do you support this Fed and these IMF measures and, if this were still going on when you were inaugurated, what steps — what US aid — would you be willing to provide to Europe?

ROMNEY: Not much, because Europe is capable of solving Europe’s problems. I actually think that — I mean, I’m not an economist by training, but what limited understanding of the economy I have suggests it’s very difficult to cobble together Greece, Ireland, Italy and Germany with the same monetary policy and highly disparate fiscal policies. I don’t know how they hold it together. [emphasis added]

In fairness, I didn’t hear the audio* or see the video of the comments. It’s possible this was said in jest (though elsewhere, the transcript points to laughter, and this is not one of those instances).

Or perhaps he was serious. The larger point is, if Romney is already trying to downplay his familiarity with economic policy, in a campaign in which he points to alleged economic expertise as his main qualification for national office, it’s a quote he might regret making.

Remember, in the last campaign, Republican nominee John McCain conceded, “I’m going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated.” The senator later admitted, “The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should.”

And now we have Romney saying he has a “limited understanding of the economy”? Given his campaign message and voters’ concerns, that may prove to be a quote that’s tough to live down.

* Update: The estimable Ari Berman listened to the audio of the comments and said “there was no laughter when he said it and didn’t seem like he was joking.”

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • ManOutOfTime on December 07, 2011 4:35 PM:

    Hoo boy, no wonder he stays off the talking head shows! The MSM is really going to have its work cut out for them making it seem like this frat boy is even remotely qualified to share the stage with Obama. I have every confidence they will find a way, mind you. It's just going to take a LOT of effort to do it. He is a thin paper sheep in sheep's clothing.

  • Eeyore on December 07, 2011 4:38 PM:

    If the situation were reversed, and Obama was running a Romney-esque campaign, you'd bet they'd copy this:

    "what limited understanding of the economy I have"

    And put it into a campaign ad.

    After all, Romney DID say the words, didn't he?

  • StevenDS on December 07, 2011 4:39 PM:

    Come on.

    He was basically conceding that his understanding of the economy has limits. It is not unlimited. There is nothing wrong with saying that. Except when you are running for president and demagogues can take it out of context.

    I'm an Obama supporter, but I get nothing from this.

  • j on December 07, 2011 4:41 PM:

    I love it! I so want someone to make a campaign ad with those words coming from Mittens.

  • xpostfactoid on December 07, 2011 4:48 PM:

    Aw come on, I'd consider this becoming modesty if Romney weren't such a sleaze. But you'd think just now he would betray some awareness that Germany is trying to force some unity of fiscal policy across the Eurozone, with treaty changes that would put a hard cap on allowed deficits, with stronger enforcement mechanisms than those currently in place. He could say that he doesn't think it will work,or that it won't win the unanimous consent required, but he should say something about it.

  • schtick on December 07, 2011 4:54 PM:

    He knows enough about economics to buy out companies, lay off workers, and get it in the black to make a nice profit. Maybe he can tell the people he had laid off that he doesn't understand economics that well and they will forgive him for eliminating their jobs.

  • June on December 07, 2011 5:06 PM:

    Not for nothing, but there's nothing in Romney's answer that any good conservative couldn't blurt out at a cocktail party while holding a copy of that day's Wall Street Journal. We should rightly expect more depth and insight from a person who believes they are qualified to be president. Call what it is, a bullshit answer.

  • Gov't Mule on December 07, 2011 5:06 PM:

    @ StevenDS: Seriously? No, I have to agree w/ Steve on this. My translation of the quote is that unless we're talking about LBOs, hostile takeovers, and venture capitalism, Slick Willard doesn't know anything about the economy. And as for the area he still claims to maintain expertise, a monkey could do what he did.

  • square1 on December 07, 2011 5:09 PM:

    I have a serious question. What is Steve Benen's endgame?

    It is quite clear that Steve Benen's relentless attacks on Romney go beyond merely covering politics. This isn't journalism, even from a left-leaning perspective. This is partisan advocacy.

    I say this not to criticize partisan advocacy in principle (if Washington Monthly wants to be a partisan journal, that's their choice). I say it because Benen clearly has an agenda (and I use that term in a wholly non-disparaging sense) and I am genuinely curious what the agenda is.

    Is Benen so confident that Romney is going to be the nominee that Benen is preemptively trying to bring Romney down for the general election? Or is Benen trying to kill Romney's chances in the primaries so that another GOP candidate emerges?

    The reason that I ask this is that I look around and I fail to see any serious potential GOP candidates that would be less catastrophic than Romney.

    Now, if Buddy Roemer, Gary Johnson, Jon Huntsman (or even Ron Paul) were most likely to step into the nomination if Romney stumbles, I would say "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" on the Romney attacks. But those candidates are unlikely to emerge.

    Most likely would be that the nomination would either go to one of the remaining disastrous candidates (i.e. Perry, Santorum, or Gingrich) or the GOP would engage in some backroom horsetrading and draft an 11th hour savior at the convention that would be potentially harder to beat than Romney (e.g. Huckabee).

    My point being that the realistically viable GOP alternatives to Romney are all stupider, more fundamentalist, and/or even more corrupt than Romney. With unemployment still close to double digits and the Euro on the brink of collapse, if Democrats are engaged in a game of trying to get the biggest nutjob in the GOP nominated in order to boost Obama's chances, they are seriously playing with fire.

  • June on December 07, 2011 5:16 PM:

    Guys - have you seen the photo the Washington Examiner is using to accompany the online article - talk about a case of "friendly fire" -- lol:


  • johnq on December 07, 2011 5:22 PM:

    I'm not at all a Romney supporter, but this seems like a complete cheap shot. Eurozone economic issues are extremely complex, and the substance of what he said is actually fairly sophisticated.

    Maybe it's a slow news day, but jumping on Romney for an offhand, fake-humble comment like this is absolute overkill. John McCain's statements resonated because it was very clear that he actually didn't have any clue about economics. The same obviously can't be said about Romney. Say what you want about Bain Capital, but arguing that a Bain Capital partner doesn't have the economic knowledge needed for the presidency is basically disqualifying everyone who's made a serious run for the office for at least the last 20 years, including Barack Obama.

  • Juneq on December 07, 2011 5:52 PM:

    @johnq -- Romney, who would have us believe he is qualified to be president - and who has also governed a state, gives an uninspiring response stating that even at this point he still has limited knowledge of economics, then, as his main reply, he repeats a common conservative meme on Europe (no aid, only austerity), and his chief economic qualifications are having founded a private equity firm that built its wealth on buying distressed companies and picking their bones -- and we should... just give the guy a pass. Why? Because utter mediocrity is the new "brilliant"?

    On another note, when we were in the midst of the Lehman Bros. meltdown that heralded the incredible mess bequeathed to us by Bush, candidate Barack Obama was confident enough in his understanding of economics to take command of the "special session" (even with Bush in the room) that McCain insisted he had to high-tail it back to DC for (and then sat mute through).

    Add to it, Obama emerged from that meeting and was capable of speaking intelligently and in-depth to reporters about what was happening. The smartest guy in the room on any of candidate Obama's interviews was definitely not the person interviewing him. If anyone thinks Romney has even a glimmer of that in him by what he has shown us so far, they are fooling themselves.

    And not for nothing, even Romney doesn't look like he's confident he knows what he's talking about:


  • nycweboy on December 07, 2011 5:53 PM:

    I tend to agree - I don't see a "big deal" here; Romney's copping to a modesty about not being a trained economist, which is probably a wise move to try and seem more human on his part. He also doesn't claim to need "more education" as McCain did. And further, I'd point out that McCain's comment is nowhere near the full picture of all the reasons he lost.

    I also sympathize with Square1, in that I think Benen's approach to these political stories is also somewhat mystifying, and I'd agree I'm not entirely sure what Benen's for - which is, these days, not a bad sum-up of much what passes for political commentary on the left. I get what people are against - the right and all the extremes coming from them, and a dismay about some aspects of the Obama Presidency... but a clear indication of what's preferable... not so much.

    In the end, I think Romney's a terrible candidate with little real shot at winning. I don't, though, find much payoff in parsing his every phrase and sentence for an outrage du jour; ultimately, I think his flaws are readily apparent to much of the electorate, and that, for his flaws, Barack Obama ha little real worry of losing in 2012, so far. I think a lot of lefty people could, and probably will, spend the time from now to then fretting about every twist and turn along the way. But I think the bigger question is... okay, so we can probably win the Presidency. Again. Is that really all we need to have happen? And again, here's where Benen and others could be more helpful, or at least, more thoughtful... if Barack Obama wins... then what? Or is winning really all there is?

  • June on December 07, 2011 6:03 PM:

    Do you not realize you are on a blog that has been around for years that tends towards Democratic ideas, rather than what passes for "conservatism" these days? Why the "aw shucks" mystification?

  • Anonymous on December 07, 2011 6:36 PM:


    The issue here isn’t whether Ronney’s economic views are uninspired or standard conservative fare. The issue is whether the text Steve Benen highlighted is actually a gotcha moment that will lead potential voters to question Romney’s qualifications to be president. I find that argument to be so unpersuasive as to be ridiculous, and the original blog posting strikes me as lazy and pointless.

    Romney is not disqualified for the presidency because he’s ignorant of economics. He’s at least as knowledgeable on the subject as anyone who’s run recently. Moreover, the substance of his comments are much more sophisticated than you’d find from virtually any other recent presidential candidate (Obama and Clinton might have pulled this off in an ad hoc answer, but I doubt anyone else could have). The fact that Romney is able to distinguish monetary and fiscal policy, and to understand that the eurozone rules affect the two in different ways, immediately makes his analysis far more sophisticated than a typical political answer.

    Again, you’re free to disagree with the substance of his economic views. If you honestly think that he’s so ignorant about economic issues as to be disqualified from the presidency, or that the highlighted portion of his quote will lead voters to believe he’s disqualified, then I submit that you’re so blinded by your dislike of the man as to have lost touch with reality. Romney is a pandering flip-flopper who would almost certainly be a terrible president. But ignorant about economic issues? Please.

  • twb on December 07, 2011 6:37 PM:

    Yeah, I concur with the "nothing to see here" crowd. I've no brief for Romney or the rest of the clown college that composes the GOP field, but, know what? Romney's not an economist, and it's refreshing to see a candidate accept that he can't play one on TV. Just imagine if that kind of candor were on display elsewhere in this race:

    "I'm not a climate scientist by training..."
    "I'm not a diplomat with Middle East experience..."
    "I'm not a biologist with a specialization in human fetal development..."
    "I'm not a policy researcher who develops econometric models of various health care reform efforts..."
    "I'm not a person who has developed the ability to experience empathy or care for any other human being."

  • Josef K on December 07, 2011 6:38 PM:

    Or perhaps he was serious.

    I'll wager he was wholly serious here, which just makes it worse.

    I can understand those commentators who don't see this as a major issue. And fundamentally it isn't. Romney admits he's not a trained economist? That's probably the first honest thing he's said thus far.

    But couple this admission with the overabundance of stupidity he's displayed since declaring his candidacy. The picture of ignorance and unprincipled floppery is no less terrifying than the possibility of "President Cain". The fact he's stumbling through an answer that might well spook Europe into collapse (a vague possibility, but one nonetheless) doesn't help any.

    By itself, this was nothing. As part of the larger context of candidate Romney, its yet another example of how utterly unsuited the man is for the highest office.

  • square1 on December 07, 2011 6:42 PM:

    @June: There is a difference between "tend[ing] towards Democratic ideas" and rank partisanship. This blog could be hosted on the DNC website virtually unchanged.

    I will note that strong focus on the GOP candidates conflicts somewhat with the stated mission of Washington Monthly, which reads in part:

    "We don’t chase news cycles, or obsess over the endless political horse race. We care about how the government can be improved, and why it hasn’t; who’s a fraud and who isn’t; which ideas ought to be banished from the nation’s capital and which ones deserve to be championed.

    We’re not a subsidiary of some giant media company or a mouthpiece for ideologues. We’re an independent voice, listened to by insiders and willing to take on sacred cows—liberal and conservative."

    Mind you, I don't think that this is a tragedy. There is a time and a place for partisan cheerleading and if that is what Washington Monthly wants to do, I'm not going to make a big deal about it, other than to point it out.

    I know that Benen seldom responds to comments, but I am genuinely curious as to what he views as his strategy in attacking Romney at this point. If Obama has a glaring weakness, it is his continued close ties to, and favorable policies for, the extremely unpopular Wall Street. Romney is the one GOP candidate that -- no doubt, no questions asked -- is not going to outflank Obama on a populist front. Even from a purely partisan standpoint, it just doesn't seem to make sense to bring Romney down before he secures the nomination.

  • June on December 07, 2011 6:53 PM:

    @johnq - I didn't see Benen doing this:

    "The issue is whether the text Steve Benen highlighted is actually a gotcha moment that will lead potential voters to question Romney’s qualifications to be president."

    I don't speak for Benen, but I would venture to say the post is actually one more in a series that highlights Romney's mediocrity in Romney's own words and, if you want to talk lazy, Romney's laziness in bringing his "A" game.

    Take what Romney said and put it up against any business conservative talking politics around the water cooler, and you would not be able to distinguish which was actually said by the guy running for President, or the guy who at the end of the day will be running for his train home to Short Hills.

    This is not the only mediocre answer Romney has given - he also seemed completely blindsided by a specific question on the Affordable Care Act that even I, as an amateur wonk, was able to know the answer to. I can hear it now - is he supposed to know all 2000 pages of the legislation - I would expect so, yes! But he should at least know that the thing he's vowing to do - provide states waivers - is already in the legislation.

    Presidential candidates who offer only excuses and "common knowledge" as legitimate responses - instead of true insight and actual ideas - apparently is good enough for some. I remain unimpressed.

  • troglodyte on December 07, 2011 6:59 PM:

    Square1 berates Steve Benen for taking a shot against Romney, but then expects him to play 11th-dimensional political chess with his blog. Concern troll.

    Look, Mitt Romney is auditioning to be the next president of the United States. This means that he should have thought through a position on the European financial crisis, or at least to present the listener with a thoughtful consideration of the contingencies. The decisions made by Germany and France are teetering our stock market, and the next recession hangs in the balance. Its not something that a serious presidential candidate should brush off with ideological slogans.

    Up the comment thread someone said that Obama and Hillary were the only two candidates in 2008 who would have tried to meet this expectation. Hello? This is why HillaryC and BarryO were the qualified candidates for president in 2008! (I would take issue with the statement that no other 2008 candidates made a serious effort to address then-current issues. The sincerity of the 2008 Dem debates made them boring television!) The 2012 Repub clownfest is far more entertaining, but has so far failed to reveal a qualified candidate. Steve Benen is pointing out that Mitt Romney is NOT qualified to be president by virtue of being the only Repub candidate who isnt batshit insane. We should expect more.

  • ComradeAnon on December 07, 2011 7:10 PM:

    twb hit the nail on the head. He's not a scientist but he's sure got an opinion on Climate Change. Just more hypocrisy.

  • Danny on December 07, 2011 7:18 PM:


    Your schtick used to be to attack Obama from the left as I recall a few months back - a firebagger of sorts. Now you're writing long, butthurt posts in defense of Romney. Hmm... You're just a little ratf**ker, aren't you?

  • johnq on December 07, 2011 7:21 PM:

    Wait a second here. The impression given by several commenters is that the actual substance of Romney's statements about the Eurozone crisis were "lazy" or "mediocre" or reflected a failure to think about or understand the economic issues involved. That's wrong. The Romney statement quoted by Steve Benen shows a very sophisticated grasp of what's going on, though it's obviously little more than a sound bite. The transcript of the entire interview includes a surprisingly detailed discussion of the issues involved.

    You can argue that Romney's policies wouldn't solve the problem. I would agree with that argument. You can't, however, argue that anything he actually said (other than the highlighted false modesty statements) reflects ignorance of the economic issues. That argument is, well, ignorant.

    And june, you questioned my assertion that "The issue is whether the text Steve Benen highlighted is actually a gotcha moment that will lead potential voters to question Romney’s qualifications to be president."

    Here's the quote from the original piece, which I believe I accurately paraphrased:

    "And now we have Romney saying he has a “limited understanding of the economy”? Given his campaign message and voters’ concerns, that may prove to be a quote that’s tough to live down."

    I stand by my original assertion that this is completely ridiculous.

  • square1 on December 07, 2011 7:28 PM:

    @troglodyte: Steve Benen didn't ding Romney for the substance of his response (which was neither particularly insightful nor particularly stupid). He dinged Romney for saying that Romney had a "limited understanding of the economy" compared to a trained economist.

    It is impossible to read the statement in context and not see it as the type of modest disclaimer that people routinely say when discussing issues in which they do not have an authoritative expertise. That doesn't mean that they are calling themselves stupid or uninformed.

    I have been a vocal critic (from a liberal perspective) of President Obama and the Affordable Care Act. I don't think there is any disputing that. Nevertheless, if Obama had once discussed health care reform and prefaced his remarks by saying "I am not trained economist, but what limited understanding of the insurance industry that I have suggests..." or "I am not a doctor, but what limited understanding of the medical profession that I have suggests..." I wouldn't have batted an eye. And if Republicans tried to make a big deal about it, I would have laughed in their faces.

    It is easy to attack Romney on economic issues because he has many vulnerabilities. That doesn't mean that literally everything that comes out of his mouth is some type of gaffe.

  • DCSusie on December 07, 2011 7:35 PM:

    My better half says that Romney's answers on this and health care suggest that he may have already decamped to his own planet.

  • Rory Carmichael on December 07, 2011 7:46 PM:

    Not to be all contrarian, but isn't his basic analysis more or less correct? I mean, that the ECB is positioned to act as a lender of last resort and that europe suffers from a monetary union without sufficient labor market integration seems like pretty much exactly what krugman and thoma and yglesias and ezra klein and jared bernstein are all saying. It seems weird to peg romney for qualifying his expertise and then saying the right thing... just saying

  • square1 on December 07, 2011 7:56 PM:

    @Danny: Thank you for your comment. First off, you do not appear to know the meaning of the word ratfuck. You might want to do a little googling before you try to use it in comments.

    Second, all of my criticism is from a liberal perspective. I defy you to find a single comment of mine that is remotely otherwise. However, as a liberal, my biggest political concern is that our political system is corrupt and broken, not that the Republicans have cooties. If we had a properly functioning political system, the Democrats would kick the shit out of the GOP. The GOP would have like 10 Senate seats and 1/5 of the House. Then the GOP would self-moderate in order to regain power.

    As a liberal, my primary concern is with fixing the systemic flaws. However, the myth that Steve Benen perpetrates is that our system is basically functioning properly and that the problem is just that Republicans refuse to be civil. I believe that this myth -- that all we need to do is to keep cheering the Dems and fighting the GOP -- is toxic to efforts to actually fix the system. Hence, my frequent comments that dispute Benen's perspective.

    Third, I have no problem with Benen attacking Romney. Benen has posted hundreds of times about Romney and the vast majority of the time, I either agree or have no comment. However, the sheer volume of recent anti-Romney posts combined with the fact that some of them have started to become absurd -- I almost expect Benen to start criticizing Romney for wearing earth tones next -- finally got me to wonder what the point is.

    Humor me. Tell me what YOU think the point is. Let's pretend that Benen was wildly successful, all his criticisms are picked up by the media, the public completely sours on Romney, and Romney's campaign nose dives before we reach the NH primary. Imagine all that happened. Is that Mission Accomplished? You tell me. What do you think happens next? And how, as a liberal, am I better off?

  • Danny on December 07, 2011 8:10 PM:


    I'm just noting that you're proclaiming to be a "liberal" yet bringing out your best game to sell Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney is trivially about 1% as good a liberal as the President is. Mitt Romneys platform is about 1% as liberal as the President's platform. You are thus walking & quacking like a concern trolling conservative, and that's what I'm going to assume you are from now on.

  • square1 on December 07, 2011 8:46 PM:


    You didn't answer any of my questions. It strikes me that, like others here, you like fabricating the illusion that I am some secret Republican troll so that you never have to respond to any of the questions that I raise on the merits.

    You say that I bring my "best game" to sell Mitt Romney when, in fact, you cannot find a single quote from me saying anything remotely in favor of Mitt Romney. The most praiseworthy thing that I have said about Romney was, in a recent post when someone accused him of being a psychopath, I pointed out that Romney showed distinct signs of narcissistic personality disorder, I did not believe that Romney (unlike Gingrich) would be clinically diagnosed as a psychopath. But if that is what constitutes "bringing out my best game to sell Mitt Romney" then so be it.

    Would I prefer Mitt Romney to be President to Barack Obama? No. Clearly, no. (Even if the difference between the two is hardly as striking as you imagine.) But we are not at the general election yet. We are in the pre-primary stage.

    No matter how many anti-Romney posts that Benen writes, there is going to be a general election. The question at this point is not "Do I prefer Obama to Romney?", No, the question is "Do I prefer an Obama-Romney matchup to Obama-Gingrich, Obama-Santorum, Obama-Perry, or even Obama-Huckabee?" And the answer is "yes". Yes, Romney is preferable to Gingrich, Santorum, Perry, or Huckabee. (Actually, Huckabee might be better in office, but he's more electable and thus a less preferable opponent)

    Political activity, even discussions on blogs, should be conducted with a purpose. One of my purposes is to improve the quality of candidates and ultimately representatives. So unless you can either show me that sinking Romney right now is going to result in a better GOP nominee than Romney, I could suggest that you and Benen stop trying to make things worse.

    As usual, this is genuine offer to discuss political strategy civilly. If you can't respond without invective, let's just leave the discusion there.

  • tonyroma on December 07, 2011 9:03 PM:

    C'mon people...are we forgetting the core voters of the GOP constituency these days? We're already lamenting the flop of Huntsman on climate change, and we truly expect Mitt Romney to speak intelligently with detail over the unfolding Eurozone crisis? He answered the question in the most digestible, simple sentence many of today's GOPers can understand and will tolerate.

    Is he capable of more? Maybe, maybe not. But ultimately it won't matter to the base...until it reverberates through the global economy into their lives here in America. Then it will be those socialist European snob's fault...and Obama's.

  • freepatriot on December 07, 2011 9:54 PM:

    Humor me. Tell me what YOU think the point is. Let's pretend that Benen was wildly successful, all his criticisms are picked up by the media, the public completely sours on Romney, and Romney's campaign nose dives before we reach the NH primary. Imagine all that happened. Is that Mission Accomplished? You tell me. What do you think happens next? And how, as a liberal, am I better off?

    what happens next is repuglitard nominee newt gingrich. And you're better of because the slimeball newtster has no chance of winning the election. Barack Obama grows enormous coat tails, democrats win back the house, and you live in a country that is governed by sane people

    does that clear it up for ya scooter ???

  • MNRD on December 07, 2011 10:54 PM:

    As a core pragmatist supporter of President Obama I prefer the match-up with Gingrich because it is easier to create a contrast with Gingrich than with Romney. The risk with Romney is that in the general election he will scoot to the center and minimize the differences with the President - that he'll present himself as a safe choice who won't be that much different than the President, but he'll just be more effective at fixing the economy.

    Ironically, the reason why conservatives are rejecting Romney is exactly the same reason why I'd prefer not to run against him - conservatives are afraid that Romney will run a centrist campaign against Romney, that Romney will blur the differences with the President, that Romney will abandon any attempt to make the conservative case. In other words, the conservatives want the same campaign framework as I do! Just like me, they want a campaign that emphasizes the differences between the candidates rather than one in which the Republican candidate tries to minimize the differences!

    I do acknowledge that Gingrich is a dangerous foe who has a lot more raw political talent than Romney. But at the end of the day I still like the match-up with Gingrich better because it guarantees that we will be able to create a tremendous contrast - because Gingrich will definitely want to create as big a contrast with the President as he possibly can.


  • MNRD on December 07, 2011 11:12 PM:

    I believe that an unfair accusation has been made against Steve, and as a regular reader of this blog I need to say something about that.

    The charge that Steve Benen believes that "our system is basically functioning properly" is utterly unfounded. Steve frequently highlights dysfunctions in the system such as filibuster abuse and the nexus between corporate money and politics. He frequently rails against the general political culture of extreme distortionism and misinformation. Ironically, the unfounded charge that Steve believes that "our system is basically functioning properly" is precisely the kind of distortionism that Steve and I deplore.

  • AK Liberal on December 08, 2011 12:35 AM:

    Benen notes that Romney said something impolitic and hand wringing commences over Benen's motives. Someone break out the smelling salts, please.

  • Pseudonym on December 08, 2011 3:24 AM:

    Steve: I have to agree with some other commenters that Romney made a pretty reasonable statement about the Eurozone crisis, at least in the part quoted here. The disparity between centralized monetary and decentralized fiscal policies, along with limited labor mobility, is a real issue for the European monetary union. I have no idea what he means by this, though: "I just don’t think the IMF begins to have the resources to solve the problem in Europe. That’s going to take a sovereign of the nature of Greece."

    More significantly, I think you're missing the real highlight of this interview: Romney is literally basing his energy policy on cold fusion.

  • June on December 08, 2011 6:01 AM:

    You know, I re-read the transcript - and the whole thing is pretty much a train wreck.

    The first words out of Romney's mouth is to remind us all that he apparently is also *not* a political scientist, so therefore, he doesn't know the answer to the first question he's asked. I'm surprised though, that Benen didn't pick up on this polished gem that ends the interview:

    Romney on TARP: "As you know, I spent my life in business. I met and spoke with major enterprises. I was on the board of at least one. We were all talking about getting our money out and where to put it - I'm talking about these institutions that had -- most corporations have tens of millions of dollars in institutions. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Guaranty, J.P. Morgan. And if they think these institutions are going to pull a Lehman, then they've got to get their money out so that they can keep paying their people. And when that kind of fear begins to enter into a system, and you have the potential of a complete panic withdrawal, that is when the government stepped in in the 1930's, and that's when the government stepped in, in, what was it, 2007?"

    For the record, it was **2008** when TARP was signed into law by George W. Bush.

    But he's 'very sophisticated', that Romney, indeed.

  • johnny canuck on December 08, 2011 2:18 PM:

    June @6:53 But he should at least know that the thing he's vowing to do - provide states waivers - is already in the legislation.

    You are right for the wrong reason. Romney knew there were state waivers and proposed to start using them on his first day in office. The problem is that the waivers don't come into play until 2017. He also didn't understand what the purpose of using the waivers was.