Part of the problem is that incessant attacks from the anti-government right (and the anti-corporate left) have deeply distorted TARP’s record. Economist Douglas Elliott of the Brookings Institution calls TARP “the best large federal program to be despised by the public.”
Economic columnist Robert Samuelson of the Washington Post summed up the evidence this way: “One lesson of the financial crisis is this: When the entire financial system succumbs to panic, only the government is powerful enough to prevent a complete collapse. Panics signify the triumph of fear. TARP was part of the process by which fear was overcome. It wasn’t the only part, but it was an essential part.”
Now Matt Bevin is facing a similar problem. As a banker, as a hard-headed businessman, he described the world as it is. Today, as a hard-line candidate, he feels compelled to abandon that view and place scripture ahead of statistics. As Romney learned, that’s never a good idea.