In the remarks Mr. Romney later tried to deny, he derided President Obama: “He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers.” Then he declared, “It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.”
You can see why I was ready to give points for honesty. For once, he actually admitted what he and his allies mean when they talk about shrinking government. Conservatives love to pretend that there are vast armies of government bureaucrats doing who knows what; in reality, a majority of government workers are employed providing either education (teachers) or public protection (police officers and firefighters)
So would getting rid of teachers, police officers, and firefighters help the American people? Well, some Republicans would prefer to see Americans get less education; remember Rick Santorum’s description of colleges as “indoctrination mills”? Still, neither less education nor worse protection are issues the G.O.P. wants to run on.
So the former governor of Massachusetts was telling the truth the first time: by opposing aid to beleaguered state and local governments, he is, in effect, calling for more layoffs of teachers, policemen and firemen.
Actually, it’s kind of ironic. While Republicans love to engage in Europe-bashing, they’re actually the ones who want us to emulate European-style austerity and experience a European-style depression.
And that’s not just an inference. Last week R. Glenn Hubbard of Columbia University, a top Romney adviser, published an article in a German newspaper urging the Germans to ignore advice from Mr. Obama and continue pushing their hard-line policies. In so doing, Mr. Hubbard was deliberately undercutting a sitting president’s foreign policy. More important, however, he was throwing his support behind a policy that is collapsing as you read this.
In fact, almost everyone following the situation now realizes that Germany’s austerity obsession has brought Europe to the edge of catastrophe — almost everyone, that is, except the Germans themselves and, it turns out, the Romney economic team.
Needless to say, this bodes ill if Mr. Romney wins in November. For all indications are that the his idea of smart policy is to double down on the very spending cuts that have hobbled recovery here and sent Europe into an economic and political tailspin.