One thing we learned from the final presidential debate is that regardless of who wins the election, taxpayers are on the hook for some nation building.
The difference is that Governor Mitt Romney wants to do his nation building abroad, while President Obama wants to engage in nation building at home. Both are likely to be very expensive for U.S. taxpayers, and it isn’t clear they will get much for their money.
Let’s begin with Obama, who thinks the promise of spending any savings—which is really only borrowed money—from winding down the wars on rebuilding America is a vote-getter. The most obvious question is why he thinks his new proposal for nation building will be any more successful than his past efforts.
Remember that $830 billion stimulus bill the president pushed through shortly after taking office? That was supposed to invest in “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects that the president later conceded weren’t so shovel-ready. And to “invest” in those green energy companies the president is so fond of.
The Heritage Foundation has been tracking companies that received some of the $80 billion set aside for “clean energy loans, grants and tax credits” in the 2009 stimulus bill. Heritage lists 36 recipients that have either failed or are “circling the drain.”
So if Obama is reelected, the country should demand to know why he thinks his new effort at nation building won’t be the miserable failure his first effort was.
As for Romney, he has only vaguely implied the need to help build up certain Middle Eastern countries, stating, “We have to help these nations create civil societies.” And he has provided no specifics for what he would do.
But given that Romney has repeatedly challenged Obama’s belief that government can rebuild an economy, Romney should explain why he thinks the U.S. government will be any more successful rebuilding failing Middle East economies than it has been here at home.
While it is true that we could use some nation building, the best way to achieve that goal is a strong and growing economy. The private sector is more than willing and able to build the nation, but the government needs to get out of the way.