NYT's Calmes Keeps 'Stimulus' Fires Burning for Obama, Versus 'Crude' Argument by Romney Supporter

New York Times White House reporter Jackie Calmes is defending Barack Obama's economic "stimulus" to the bitter end, as shown in Saturday's "What Romney Has Said Offers Clues If He Wins," predicting how Romney would have responded to America's economic problems if he'd been president

Also, some Times editor decided to make a snotty editorial comment on a photo accompanying the story of a homemade yard sign in Virginia that accurately read: "4 More Years? of More Debt, Bailout, Big Govt? No Thanks!" The photo caption: "A sign in Hillsboro, Va., offers a crude endorsement of Mitt Romney’s economic argument."

Calmes has for years loyally defended Obama's "stimulus" in her news reports, and keeps the flame burning on the eve of the election.

For nearly four years, Mr. Romney has attacked President Obama’s responses to the worst economic crisis since the Depression, the decisions that have defined the Obama presidency -- on the stimulus package, auto industry rescue, home-foreclosure measures and financial regulation.

Mr. Romney has been less clear about what action he would have taken instead. What follows are snapshots of his reactions then and now, which provide a sense of how he might have responded if he had been in the Oval Office and how he might approach economic policy should he be elected president on Tuesday.

STIMULUS Mr. Romney was an early advocate of some government action and criticized President George W. Bush for not seeking a stimulus measure before departing. But mostly he slammed Mr. Obama, within days of the inauguration, for the $831 billion package of spending and tax cuts that a Democratic-led Congress soon passed. He called it bloated with spending that would take too long to help the economy. (The total grew to $1.4 trillion as some provisions were renewed.)

By the end of 2009 Mr. Romney declared the stimulus a costly failure, though nonpartisan studies found that it had helped create or support millions of jobs. He cited a weak recovery, slower than even the Obama administration’s projections, and a stubbornly high unemployment rate.

But Mr. Romney’s own prescriptions were mixed. In February 2009, as the stimulus bill was being enacted, he suggested $450 billion in tax cuts for middle-income Americans and federal money for unspecified “urgent priorities.” He called tax cuts “twice as effective” as spending for spurring the economy, a contention that many economists dispute.


His position mirrored that taken by many conservatives at the time in the United States and in Europe, which became something of a laboratory for the idea that Keynesian policy had been proven ineffective and that slashing spending and reducing deficits would lower interest rates, promote investment, shrink the government’s interference in the marketplace and put the economy on a sounder footing for the long run.

Britain and other nations that adopted austerity policies encountered deeper economic troubles. In the United States, few nonpartisan economists support government austerity in a downturn. Mr. Romney, suggesting some belief in the central tenet of Keynesian economics -- that government spending can temporarily make up for a lack of demand in the private sector -- has subsequently said that he would enact budget cuts he supported with an eye toward whether the timing would have a negative impact on a still-weak recovery.