By all accounts, Mitt Romney is a smart businessman with a sophisticated understanding of how economies work. So why is he so tied up in knots over basic questions of government spending in a recession and the limits of the free market?
Because he’s running for president in a party that has lost its economic common sense, its political bearings and probably Michigan’s electoral votes.
Here’s the Republican candidate off-script (the best way to find out what’s in his head) at a town hall meeting Tuesday in Shelby Township, Michigan: “If you just cut, if all you’re thinking about doing is cutting spending, why, as you cut spending you’ll slow down the economy, so you have to at the same time create pro-growth tax policies.”
This is a classic example of a “Kinsley gaffe” (named for my Bloomberg View colleague Michael Kinsley), which is when a politician accidentally says something that’s true but politically inconvenient.
Sure enough, Andy Roth, vice president for government affairs at the fiscally conservative Club for Growth, called Romney’s comments “hogwash.” Roth said the statement “confirms yet again that Romney is not a limited government conservative. The idea that balancing the budget would not help the economy is crazy. If we balanced the budget tomorrow on spending cuts alone, it would be fantastic for the economy.”