Eight years have passed since Mitt Romney expressed his disappointment with almost half of all Americans. Forty seven percent are “dependent upon government” — claimed the Republican party’s then presidential nominee, in leaked remarks — and “believe that they are victims”. Among the frills to which they regard themselves “entitled” are medical care, accommodation and food. “You name it,” he said, as though he had just itemised the contents of a prima donna’s rider.

On Monday, Romney urged the government to pay $1,000 to each and every American adult. Besides this helicopter money, the senator wants to help the virus-stricken economy with more paid leave, unemployment insurance and nutritional programmes. The stern budget hawk of yesteryear, for whom the US was a wheezing slacker, ripe for a private-equity turnaround, could hardly be more munificent.

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