Investing in companies is ‘the wrong way to go’?

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Investing in companies is 'the wrong way to go'?
Investing in companies is 'the wrong way to go'?
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Towards the end of last night’s debate, Mitt Romney had to get one more Solyndra reference in, knowing he wouldn’t get another chance. But in the process, he raised an odd point.

“We in this country can compete successfully with anyone in the world. And we’re going to. We’re going to have to have a president, however, that doesn’t think that somehow the government investing in car companies like Tesla and Fisker, making electric battery cars – this is not research, Mr. President. These are the government investing in companies, investing in Solyndra. This is a company. This isn’t basic research. I want to invest in research. Research is great. Providing funding to universities and think tanks – great. But investing in companies? Absolutely not. That’s the wrong way to go.

I certainly understand the underlying point here, and it’s true that this president, like all modern presidents, believes there’s nothing wrong with the government sometimes investing in private companies. Romney, however, wants voters to see this as some sort of socialism run amok – as if the very idea is too radical to even contemplate.

After all, what kind of left-wing extremist would find it acceptable for the government to invest tax dollars directly in private companies? Well, perhaps a left-wing extremist like Mitt Romney, circa 2003.

Romney’s actual record in public office seems to have slipped down the memory hole, but soon after Romney became governor in Massachusetts he invested $1.5 million in renewable energy subsidies to a private company called Konarka Technologies, which later went bankrupt. He also directed millions to Evergreen Solar before it filed for bankruptcy.

As we discussed in June, as outraged as Romney pretends to be now, as governor he argued public investments shouldn’t be left to free enterprise alone. Indeed, Romney loved picking winners and losers with public funds – even when it meant loan guarantees to firms that supported his campaign.

Maybe his “Romnesia” is spreading?

Debates and Mitt Romney

Investing in companies is 'the wrong way to go'?

Updated