Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has hammered rival Rick Santorum on his support for federal pork as a senator, but Romney, too, is guilty of nabbing Washington cash, especially while heading the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Romney sought congressional directed funds — known as earmarks — to help build transportation systems and augment security operations for the Games and argued that such money was vital to putting on the events.
“No matter how well we did cutting costs and raising revenue, we couldn’t have Games without the support of the federal government,” Romney wrote in his first book, Turnaround: Crisis, Leadership and the Olympic Games.
The federal government pumped more than $340 million into Utah in advance of the 2002 Games, funding about 18 percent of the cost, including funds for buses, light-rail construction and a host of security-related projects, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office. If costs for rebuilding Interstate 15 and all of the light-rail expenses are added, the federal sum zooms to $1.3 billion.
Turns out public-private partnerships can be incredibly effective. It’s a shame that today Romney is unwilling to defend or credit the role of government in a functioning society, instead preferring to worship at the altar of “free market” economics and the caricature of Reagan the Republican demigod.