One of the curiosities of life in these curious times is that millions of Americans are enjoying the benefits of government — but are either unaware of it or in denial.
A 2008 study found that 40 percent of Medicare recipients, 44 percent of Social Security beneficiaries, 53 percent of people with student loans, and 60 percent of homeowners with taxpayer-subsidized mortgages answered “no” to the question of whether they are using a government social program.
But at least they’re not running to be the chief executive of the federal government. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, is, and he’s been disparaging Americans who turn to government to get what he calls “free stuff” to meet some of their needs. He cites his experience as a private sector executive as a more virtuous model and proof that he has the managerial chops to run the government like a business. For example, Romney’s campaign has broadcast TV ads hailing his successful stint as CEO of the 2002 Winter Olympic games in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Unmentioned by this heroic free-enterpriser, however, is that his gold medal success was largely the result of “free stuff ” he got from Washington.
Grossly over budget and unable to attract enough private-sector investment, Romney dashed for a taxpayer handout that ballooned to $1.5 billion before he was done. That’s a lot of stuff! In fact, it was one-and-a-half-times more government money than had been thrown into all seven Olympic games held in the U.S. since 1904. Sen. John McCain called the level of federal subsidy “a disgrace,” made all the more disgraceful by later exposés documenting that much of the loot went not for the games, but to enrich wealthy Utah developers.
Remember Mitt’s Olympic haul of government gold the next time you hear him assail poor people for getting food stamps.
This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.