I made a stunning discovery while recording this week’s episode of The Delivery: Mitt Romney has no intention on cutting the size of government. Now, I know that sounds like a baseless attack on Romney by a guy who is on record as saying he’d vote for a half-eaten and moldering ham sandwich rather than the Grandfather of Obamacare, but hear me out.
Better yet, hear Mitt Romney out. He’s the one who really said it. Here is what he had to say about cutting the size of government at a recent town hall meeting in Michigan:
Speaking in Shelby Township, MI, the former Massachusetts governor took a question about the Simpson-Bowles fiscal commission empaneled by President Obama to address the nation’s deficit and debt issues. In his response, he said that addressing taxes and spending issues are essential.
“If you just cut, if all you’re thinking about doing is cutting spending, as you cut spending you’ll slow down the economy,” he said in part of his response. “So you have to, at the same time, create pro-growth tax policies.”
And here is the clarification from his campaign.
The governor’s point was that simply slashing the budget, with no affirmative pro-growth policies, is insufficient to get the economy turned around. However, he believes that budget cuts – especially in the context of President Obama’s unprecedented spending explosion – are a step in the right direction. As he made clear in his economic plan, he believes that spending cuts that reduce the size of government and balance the budget are crucial to economic growth and job creation.
First of all, that’s utter balderdash. As I said when I talked about this on The Delivery, if we cut the federal budget to 18 percent of GDP tomorrow and left the tax rates exactly where they are, our economy would take off like it had rockets strapped to it. Of course we’d do better if we accompanies those cuts with comprehensive tax reform, but we could do very well with nothing but budget cuts. I know that Romney is supposed to be some sort of financial wizard, what with his skills as a venture capitalist and all, but he doens’t look like much of a genius when he adopts the very same “we can’t simply cut our way to prosperity” argument used by President Obama just a few months ago. What he looks like is just another lover of big government who has no problem riding herd on spending as it eats up not only our prosperity but also the prosperity of the generation that follows us.
Alone, that would be bad enough. What’s worse, though, is that he has already shown us, in this comment, that he will not cut the size of government. We need only look at his economic plan. Jim Pethokoukis was kind enough to highlight the salient points earlier this month.
Mitt Romney wants to be the next president of a country in need of serious and sweeping economic reform. And here are the first two points in his 59-point economic plan:
1. Maintain current tax rates on personal income
2. Maintain current tax rates on interest, dividends, and capital gains
Now imagine private-equity boss Romney back at Bain Capital sitting down to read his team’s 59-point turnaround plan for some troubled widget maker. And imagine if the first two action items started with the phrase “Maintain current ….”
Well, that’s trouble, isn’t it? If Romney believes that cutting spending without changing tax policies will hurt the economy, and the first two points in his 59 point plan involve not changing personal or growth-related business tax policies, then what? He’s going to be a lean, mean, budget-cutting machine? No, of course not. How can he? He’s already put his cards on the table: cutting spending without tax reform will hurt the economy and there’s no meaningful tax reform in his sprawling plan. He’s boxed himself in, which, I suspect, was his intention all along. He’s never been particularly devoted to smaller government — that’s why he invented Romneycare to solve a problem that could have been solved through reasonable free market means. So if he somehow manages to beat Barack Obama and make it to the Oval Office, he’s not going to submit smaller budgets. He won’t use the bully pulpit to convince America that reasonable government, even without tax reform, is better for the nation and for every individual in it.
No, President Romney will do a whole lot of nothing. Or worse, he’ll sign a whole bunch of spending bills that make government even bigger and load up an even larger debt burden on our kids. That’s who he is. That’s what he does.
And for some insane reason, the professional Republicans really, really, really want him to be their nominee. I guess that makes sense. The GOP doesn’t have much of an interest in making government smaller either. I know that because they just loaded another $100 billion worth of debt on our progeny to grant us a useless pittance of a temporary tax cut. If the Republican Party was serious about smaller government, they would have grown a real spine, looked America in the eyes, and told us the truth — it is wrong to lay a mortgage worth of debt on our children because we lack the courage to go without a few chunks of government cheese.