Romney Details Spending Cuts in D.C. Speech

Romney Details Spending Cuts in D.C. Speech

By Erin McPike - November 4, 2011

Mitt Romney vowed Friday to make the federal government "simpler, smaller and smarter" if he is elected president next year.

In a speech to the Americans for Prosperity Foundation at the Washington, D.C., Convention Center, Romney promised to cap spending at 20 percent of GDP. Decrying the deficit increase on President Obama's watch, the former Massachusetts governor explained in detail how his resume prepares him to tackle the nation’s economic woes.

The only opposition he focused on was Obama -- ignoring his GOP primary rivals. Romney had previewed the policy speech Thursday night in New Hampshire.

"Today, government borrows 36 cents of every dollar it spends. If we stay on the present course, we will face tomorrow what Greece, Italy, and Spain face today," Romney warned, adding, "But there is no nation big enough to bail us out."

He continued, "It took 43 presidents over 200 years to accumulate $6.3 trillion of national debt. President Obama is on track to borrow and spend nearly that much in just one term."

He contrasted their backgrounds by noting that he doesn't need to be taught how to balance a budget  -- he's been doing it for 35 years. Romney explained how he took a deficit of $3 billion at the beginning of his governorship to a surplus of $2 billion.

And he explained, as he had done in his 2004 book, "Turnaround," how he straightened out the books of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

"When it was all said and done, our Olympics were among the most successful ever, and instead of a deficit, we produced $100 million dollars for an endowment fund," Romney said.

In explaining his proposals, he repackaged many of the recommendations in his 59-point economic plan -- which he rolled out in September -- in order to drill down specifically on spending cuts.

But he also identified specific programs he would put on the chopping block, or at least release from federal funding. Endowments for the arts, he said, should be cut, as should Planned Parenthood. Amtrak should be privatized.

Romney also suggested that any countries not in line with American interests should not get foreign aid. And he said countries like China that don't need foreign aid should similarly be off the list.

Echoing a point he made a governor, Romney said agencies within the government must be streamlined and consolidated. In an almost exasperated tone, he ticked through all of the federal agencies that handle trade policy, saying all should be housed in one place.

The campaigns of Romney's competitors pounced on his plan. The Rick Perry campaign kept up the contrast it has drawn with Romney on the two candidates’ approaches to the bank bailout of late 2008, while the Jon Huntsman campaign accused Romney of timidity in not offering to cut defense.

"Any proposal from Mitt Romney to reduce government spending that does not end government bailouts is not a serious plan to reduce government spending," said Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan. "While Mr. Romney continues to put Wall Street over Main Street, Rick Perry is a real fiscal conservative whose economic plan ends Washington and Wall Street bailouts, cuts taxes and federal spending and balances the budget by 2020."

Huntsman spokesman Tim Miller piled on: "What you won't hear in the Romney debt speech today: Defense cuts, meaningful Social Security reform, or eliminating subsidies like ethanol. Timidity and pandering are not a path to a balanced budget. That's why Jon Huntsman's plan to balance the budget won't protect sacred cows." 

Erin McPike is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ErinMcPike.

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