Sen. Mitt Romney has come out in opposition to upping the amount of direct COVID assistance from $600 to $2000. After insisting on the passage of the original $900 billion relief bill as absolutely necessary and supporting the attached $1.4 trillion omnibus monstrosity, the Utah Senator suddenly cares about the debt again because his goal in life is apparently to become the most ridiculous caricature of a Republican possible.
Mitt Romney opposes $2,000 checks, saying, "We can’t just have free money." Okay, so why are we spending any money at all then? Why draw the line at this support for Americans but not many other things Congress (and Romney) vote to spend money on? https://t.co/7A18dneHPz
— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) December 27, 2020
That’s the right question. If the debt is an issue, and it’s a big issue, why is it that Romney only cares about it the moment some money might be given directly back to taxpayers? Why not get up in arms over a nearly trillion-dollar NDAA that continues to fund wars that no one is even bothering to defend anymore? Or maybe show some backbone by opposing the omnibus that’s full of pork and unnecessary spending? But when it comes to actually helping people who have truly been screwed by the government due to lockdowns, Romney suddenly draws the line. Weird, right?
This is why Romney was so easy to vilify during the 2012 race, and it’s why Republicans struggled so greatly with working-class voters prior to Trump. It’s not that voters can’t understand the idea of fiscal sanity. It’s that they can’t understand the idea of fiscal sanity when the same people preaching it spend trillions on big business, special interests, and foreign intervention. One reason Sen. Rand Paul resonates so well outside of the mainstream of the GOP establishment is that he’s actually consistent on this point. He wants less spending everywhere, not just in his chosen areas. He’s not afraid to target the sacred cows.
Meanwhile, Romney is your typical Republican who is willing to blow out the debt right up until the point it might not go to some conglomerate or defense contractor. Only then is he concerned about future generations. Of course, in this case, his opposition to upping direct payments also allows him to stick his finger in Trump’s eye so there’s that, as well.
Personally, I’m all for fiscal sanity. I’m all for taking a critical eye to every part of our budget, including the sacred defense cow. But I’m not going to play this game Republicans so often play where they pretend to care about the debt while simply blowing out the spending on their priorities, which they always frame as impossible to cut. Upping direct assistance from $600 to $2000 while cutting in other areas makes far more sense than the status quo of having the checks only represent 7% of the bill. Money is never better spent than giving it back to taxpayers. That shouldn’t be the red line for Romney given his support for so much other fiscal waste, and the fact that it is shows just how out of touch he is.
(Please follow me on Twitter! @bonchieredstate)