The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• Mitt Romney
Press Release - On Spending, Romney Will Make the Tough Choices That Santorum Would Not
February 16, 2012
"Mitt Romney believes it is essential that Washington live within its means. As president, he will address our skyrocketing debt and deficits with a bold fiscal plan that reforms entitlements and makes cuts in non-essential spending. Senator Santorum's record in Washington is not fiscally conservative. Governor Romney will make the tough decisions on spending that Senator Santorum has been unable or unwilling to make." —Andrea Saul, Romney Campaign Spokesperson

Governor Romney snd Senator Santorum Have Very Different Approaches to Federal Spending:

As Governor, Mitt Romney Went After The Sacred Cows — And He'll Do The Same As President. ROMNEY: "If there was a program, an agency, or a department that needed cutting, we cut it. In fact, a commentator once said that I didn't just go after the sacred cows, I went after the whole herd. And I can't wait to get my hands on Washington." (Jennifer Rubin, "Romney Connects At CPAC," The Washington Post, 2/10/12)

Senator Santorum, On The Other Hand, Admitted: "I Am No Longer A Deficit Hawk ... I'll Tell You Why. I Had To Spend The Surpluses." "Confronted with projected deficits until fiscal 2007, senior GOP lawmakers are backing away from long-standing rhetoric about the government's duty to live within its means. 'I came to the House as a real deficit hawk, but I am no longer a deficit hawk,' said Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.). 'I'll tell you why. I had to spend the surpluses. Deficits make it easier to say no.'" (Hans Nichols, "Leadership Lines Up With Deficit Doves," The Hill, 2/5/03)

  • Federal Spending Increased By Roughly 80% During Santorum's Tenure In The Senate. In 1995, Santorum's first year in the Senate, federal spending was approximately $1.516 trillion. By 2007, when Santorum left the Senate, spending had increased to approximately $2.729 trillion. ("Fiscal Year 2012 Historical Tables Of The U.S. Government," Office of Management and Budget, 2/14/11)
  • "Santorum Acknowledged Voting To Raise The Federal Debt Ceiling At Least Five Times While In Congress." (Charles Babington, "Gingrich Defends His Attacks," The Associated Press, 1/15/12)
  • Santorum Brought Over $1 Billion In Pork-Barrel Spending Back To Pennsylvania. "In all, Taxpayers for Common Sense estimated, Mr. Santorum helped secure more than $1 billion in earmarks during his Senate career, which stretched from 1995 through 2006." (Michael Luo and Mike McIntire, "Donors Gave As Santorum Won Earmarks," The New York Times, 1/15/12)
  • Club For Growth: Toward The End Of His Tenure, Santorum's Spending Record Got Even Worse. "In the 2003-2004 session of Congress, Santorum sponsored or cosponsored 51 bills to increase spending, and failed to sponsor or co-sponsor even one spending cut proposal. In his last Congress (2005-2006), he had one of the biggest spending agendas of any Republican..." ("2012 Presidential White Paper #4: Former Senator Rick Santorum," Club For Growth, 6/6/11)

As President, Romney Will Cut Spending, Cap Spending, And Balance The Budget:

After three years of President Obama, many now question whether we can ever return to fiscal sanity, let alone fiscal strength. A point of no return may well be approaching — a decade of huge deficits could drive our principal payments and interest rates beyond our reach while starving the economy of the capital it needs to grow.

Fortunately, the American economy's tremendous capacity for growth gives the country one more chance to correct course. Mitt Romney has spent his career executing turnarounds in the private sector, the non-profit sector, and in state government. He will bring to Washington the turnaround philosophy it so badly needs.

Set Honest Goals: Cap Spending At 20 Percent Of GDP

Any turnaround must begin with clear and realistic goals. Optimistic projections cannot wish a problem away, they can only make it worse. As president, Mitt's goal will be to bring federal spending below 20 percent of GDP by the end of his first term:

  • Reduced from 24.3 percent last year; in line with the historical trend between 18 and 20 percent
  • Close to the tax revenue generated by the economy when healthy
  • Requires spending cuts of approximately $500 billion per year in 2016 assuming robust economic recovery with 4% annual growth, and reversal of irresponsible Obama-era defense cuts

Take Immediate Action: Return Non-Security Discretionary Spending To Below 2008 Levels

Any turnaround must also stop the bleeding and reverse the most recent and dramatic damage:

  • Send Congress a bill on Day One that cuts non-security discretionary spending by 5 percent across the board
  • Pass the House Republican Budget proposal, rolling back President Obama's government expansion by capping non-security discretionary spending below 2008 levels

Follow A Clear Roadmap: Build A Simpler, Smaller, Smarter Government

Most importantly, any turnaround must have a thoughtful, structured approach to achieving its goals. Mitt will attack the bloated budget from three angles:

1. The Federal Government Should Stop Doing Things The American People Can't Afford, Including:

  • Repeal Obamacare — Savings: $95 Billion. President Obama's costly takeover of the health care system imposes an enormous and unaffordable obligation on the federal government while intervening in a matter that should be left to the states. Mitt will begin his efforts to repeal this legislation on Day One.
  • Privatize Amtrak — Savings: $1.6 Billion. Despite requirement that Amtrak operate on a for-profit basis, it continues to receive about $1.6 billion in taxpayer funds each year. Forty-one of Amtrak's 44 routes lost money in 2008 with losses ranging from $5 to $462 per passenger.
  • Reduce Subsidies For The National Endowments For The Arts And Humanities, The Corporation For Public Broadcasting, And The Legal Services Corporation — Savings: $600 Million. NEA, NEH, and CPB provide grants to supplement other sources of funding. LSC funds services mostly duplicative of those already offered by states, localities, bar associations and private organizations.
  • Eliminate Title X Family Planning Funding — Savings: $300 Million. Title X subsidizes family planning programs that benefit abortion groups like Planned Parenthood.
  • Reduce Foreign Aid — Savings: $100 Million. Stop borrowing money from countries that oppose America's interests in order to give it back to them in the form of foreign aid.

2. Empower States To Innovate — Savings: >$100 billion

  • Block grants have huge potential to generate both superior results and cost savings by establishing local control and promoting innovation in areas such as Medicaid and Worker Retraining. Medicaid spending should be capped and increased each year by CPI + 1%. Department of Labor retraining spending should be capped and will increase in future years. These funds should then be given to the states to spend on their own residents. States will be free from Washington micromanagement, allowing them to develop innovative approaches that improve quality and reduce cost.

3. Improve Efficiency And Effectiveness. Where the federal government should act, it must do a better job. For instance:

Reduce Waste And Fraud — Savings: $60 Billion. The federal government made $125 billion in improper payments last year. Cutting that amount in half through stricter enforcement and harsher penalties yields returns many times over on the investment.

  • Align Federal Employee Compensation With The Private Sector — Savings: $47 Billion. Federal compensation exceeds private sector levels by as much as 30 to 40 percent when benefits are taken into account. This must be corrected.
  • Repeal The Davis-Bacon Act — Savings: $11 Billion. Davis-Bacon forces the government to pay above-market wages, insulating labor unions from competition and driving up project costs by approximately 10 percent.
  • Reduce The Federal Workforce By 10 Percent Via Attrition — Savings: $4 Billion. Despite widespread layoffs in the private sector, President Obama has continued to grow the federal payrolls. The federal workforce can be reduced by 10 percent through a "1-for-2" system of attrition, thereby reducing the number of federal employees while allowing the introduction of new talent into the federal service.
  • Consolidate agencies and streamline processes to cut costs and improve results in everything from energy permitting to worker retraining to trade negotiation.

Preserve Entitlements

If pursued with focus and discipline, Romney's approach provides a roadmap to rescue the federal government from its present precipice. But that respite will be short-lived without a plan for the looming long-term threat posed by the unsustainable nature of existing entitlement obligations. Romney proposes reforms that will strengthen both Social Security and Medicare, preserving benefits for today's seniors while putting the program on sound footing for generations of seniors to come.

Social Security: No one at or near the retirement age will see any changes and tax hikes cannot be on the table. Instead, Social Security can be placed on a sustainable trajectory with commonsense reforms:

  • Gradually raise the retirement age to reflect increases in longevity
  • Slow the growth in benefits for higher-income retirees

Medicare: Medicare should not change for anyone in the program or soon to be in it. Nor should tax hikes be part of the solution. Reforms must honor commitments to our current seniors while giving the next generation an improved program that offers the freedom to choose what their coverage under Medicare should look like:

  • Give future seniors a choice between traditional Medicare and many other healthcare plans offering at least the same benefits
  • Help seniors pay for the option they choose, with a level of support that ensures all can obtain the coverage they need; provide those with lower incomes with more generous assistance
  • Allow beneficiaries to keep the savings from less expensive options or choose to pay more for costlier plans
  • These reforms will encourage insurers to lower costs and compete on the quality of their offerings
  • Gradually raise the retirement age to reflect increases in longevity
Citation: Mitt Romney: "Press Release - On Spending, Romney Will Make the Tough Choices That Santorum Would Not", February 16, 2012. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.
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