The Romney team release excerpts of his speech today at the Detroit Economic Club today. It includes these remarks: “If I am your President, in my first 100 days, I will roll up my sleeves, and I will personally bring together industry, labor, Congressional and state leaders to develop a plan to rebuild America’s automotive leadership. It will be one that works for Michigan and that works for the American taxpayers.” He goes on to say: “”From legacy costs, to health care costs, to increased CAFE standards, to embedded taxes, Detroit can only thrive if Washington is an engaged partner, not a disinterested observer. The plan should include increases in funding for automotive related research and new tax benefits including making the research and development tax credit permanent.” He goes on to whack CAFE standards and McCain and Lieberman (who is campaigning in the state) for their efforts on the current energy bill and then continues: “But taking off all these burdens is only half the solution. If we are going to be the world’s greatest economic power, we must invest in our future. It’s time to be bold. First, I will make a five-fold increase – from $4 billion dollars to $20 billion dollars – in our national investment in energy research, fuel technology, materials science, and automotive technology. Research spins out new ideas for new products for both small and large businesses. That is exactly what has happened in health care, in defense, and in space. Look how industries in other states have thrived from the spin out of technologies from our investment in these areas. So if we can invest in health care, in defense, and in space, why not also invest in energy and fuel technology here in Michigan?”
My question is: what does this have to do with a conservative, free market view of the U.S. economy? Are we now reduced to mimicking Soviet industrial policy? And where does this end? Surely every stumbling industry in the U.S. which failed to get its house in order should line up at the door to get their slice of the pie. Really, if not Romney, at least his conservatives supporters should have the intellectual honesty to say ” What?!” But such is politics and it may work.