Sunday, February 3, 2008

McCain Hammered Romney on Olympic Pork Barrel

I'm watching John McCain campaigning on cable right now. He's railing against earmarks and he's pledging the congressional pork barrel extravaganza will end under his administration.

This could be more bluster than beef, although
McCain's generally unassailable as a tough-on-spending conservative.

This morning's Los Angeles Times reports, for example, indicates that McCain was hammering Mitt Romney in 2000 for his lobbying in favor of federal subsidies for the Salt Lake City Olympics:

On Sept. 19, 2000, John McCain rose in the Senate to rail against what he called the "staggering" sums that the federal government planned to spend to help Salt Lake City stage the 2002 Winter Olympics.

"The American taxpayer is being shaken down to the tune of nearly a billion and a half dollars," McCain said.

The Arizona Republican vowed to "do everything in my power" to delay or kill "this pork-barrel spending" and to end the "fiscal abuse" related to the Olympics. "This is preposterous and it must stop," he said.

Mitt Romney, who headed the Olympics, counseled calm when reporters from Utah's Deseret Morning News reached him in Sydney, Australia. Romney challenged McCain's arithmetic, arguing that taxpayers would provide only $250 million. In any case, he asserted that he already had obtained backing in Congress.

"I'm expecting the funding we need to host the Games," he said. "I'm quite confident."

The clash over Olympics spending, which dragged on for two years, helps explain some of the acrimony that now characterizes the race between the two front-runners for the Republican presidential nomination. The dispute provided an early preview of the fissures that still divide McCain and Romney as they face what may be decisive contests Tuesday.
Read the whole thing.

The Times piece notes that McCain, as Chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, never held hearings on Romney's lobbying for Olympic largesse.

Nevertheless, the article provides an excellent case of how Romney has exaggerated his record as an innovative leader.

The truth is the Salt Lake City Olympics were underwritten by American taxpayer dollars.