Mitt Romney, in a speech yesterday outside of Baltimore, explained that the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was essential in preventing another Depression. He then said that President Bush and Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson deserve the credit for this generous action since they said, ‘ we’ve gotta do something to show we’re not gonna let the whole system go out of business.’ This is in sharp contrast to Mitt’s famous opposition to the GM and Chrysler bailout.

Why would Mitt decide to praise Bush for, of all things, TARP? I’d guess that this is a pretty strong signal that the economy is firmly on an upward trajectory, no matter how slight it seems now. So, it is understandable that Mitt would not want to give Obama credit for the upswing. However, it also signals that the economy will be a minor issue in the upcoming general election campaign.

TARP was obviously an important concern, especially for those whose wealth was dependent on the investment ‘banks’. So, when it was proposed, a motley crew of supporters arose, including those who wanted to save our arcane system of investing that has developed in the last few decades, those who wanted to pump up the Manhattan real estate market, and those who believed that smaller banks were the bane of modern-day technology, since they actually cared about stupid things like jobs. It was much easier to decry the car bailout since it did none of those things, merely keeping a bunch of Midwestern hicks out of the welfare line.

Conservatives have feared for months that, once Romney was assured of the GOP nomination, his policy positions would revert back to those that he held when he was Massachusetts Governor, and that those he has asserted in the last year were a mere charade. This may have been the first one in a long parade. I guess we’ll see Mitt become pro-choice again (but not as much as Obama), pro-government health care (but not as much as Obama), pro illegal immigration (but not as much as Obama) and pro-gay rights (but not as much as Obama). So get ready, Republicans…this election could be your 2004 Kerry moment.