One of the main things Mitt Romney and his campaign want you to know is that Romney "saved" the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. In fact, Romney's returning to Utah tomorrow to congratulate himself on the 10th anniversary of those winter games.
But the story of Romney's supposed Olympic triumph isn't as simple as he wants you to believe. Rather, his success as president of the 2002 winter games was due to the unprecedented amount of federal money he procured to organize the most expensive Olympics in American history. And coming from a candidate who's spent his campaign railing against federal spending and earmarks, it's another breathtaking example of Romney's hypocrisy.
The Salt Lake games got more taxpayer dollars than all of the previous U.S.-hosted Olympics combined: a whopping $1.3 billion. For comparison, the 1984 games in L.A. received $75 million and the 1996 games in Atlanta received $609 million. It's clear that the real hero of the 2002 games was the American taxpayer.
Romney's campaign is already pushing back by saying that the extra money was necessary for security. But our money went to much more than security, including $30 million for parking lots, $2 million for sewer systems, and $33,000 for an Olympic horse adoption program.
To folks like John McCain—one of Romney's 2012 endorsers—this "ripoff of the taxpayers" for "an incredible pork-barrel project for Salt Lake City" was "outrageous" and "a national disgrace." Romney, however, bragged about the amount of funding he got from Uncle Sam.
But now that's he's in a tough Republican presidential primary, Romney says he's against that kind of spending: "Republicans spent too much money, borrowed too much money, earmarked too much. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have to be held accountable."
It's time that Romney is held accountable, too, for using $1.3 billion of the American taxpayers' money to take credit for "saving" the Olympics.