Mitt Romney on Budget & Economy
Former Republican Governor (MA)
A: Well, the list is very long. The last time we had a recession, President Bush recognized the best thing you can do is lower taxes and put forward a tax bill. And John McCain was one of only two Republicans to vote against it. He does not understand the first lesson of Reaganomics, which is, you cut taxes to grow the economy.
Q: What would you do differently than the president would do?
A: There are two things that I’d add to the legislation that relate to long-term growth incentives. One is to say to people who are making under $200,000 a year, they ought to be able to save their money, tax-free, no tax on interest, dividends or capital gains. And secondly, for people 65 years of age & older, my view is that they should not have to have payroll taxes taken out of their incomes.
A: Mayor Giuliani is a wonderful fellow. But he’s spent his life working in the governmental sector. I spent my life working in the private sector. And when it comes to trying to help see jobs come back, see our economy stronger, voters are going to want somebody who really understands how the economy works, and someone who has run something and someone who can, from the outside, finally get inside Washington and turn the place inside out
Q: Tell us why voters should support you over John McCain.
A: Sen. McCain is an honorable and courageous individual. But he has been in Washington all of his career. And I don’t think you’re going to see change in Washington by somebody who’s been such a part of it all of these years. I think people recognize that it’s essential to have somebody who’s had a job in the economy, who knows how the economy works and can fight to bring good jobs for middle-income Americans.
A: Well, I like mine better. And there are two reasons. One is mine has a very large dose of long-term growth incentives. It’s not just designed to be a short-term stimulus, but rather a long-term growth boost. Not only by allowing capital expenditures to be expensed over these next two years, but also lowering the corporate tax rate so that we can get more businesses to stay here and grow here. So you really have to divide my incentive plan between those things that are long-term in nature and those things that are short- term and stimulative. And I think it probably divides about 50-50.
A: I’d go aggressively after the housing market to make sure that servicing organizations combine in some cases, perhaps forming cooperatives to work together with homeowners to keep homes that are absolutely not necessary to going into foreclosure, to keep them with homeowners in them so that we don’t dump housing product in the housing market and cause a further reduction in housing prices.
A: This is, indeed, a time of extraordinary challenges in this country, and the overspending in Washington and the overpromises that we’ve made are certainly among those challenges. But this is not a time for us to wring our hands and think that the future is bleak. In fact, the future is bright. We need leadership to rein in excessive spending, and to help America grow. The best answer for our economic woes is to make sure we have good jobs for our citizens, good schools for our kids, good health care for everyone, and that we have policies that promote the growth of the nation. We can have a level playing field around the world, get ourselves off of foreign oil, reduce the excessive spending in Washington, and have a bright future for our kids. This is based upon the strength of the American people. If you want to see a strong America, you don’t look to Washington; you look to ways to strengthen the American people.
A: Well, we don’t have to run a deficit to pay for the things that are most important because we can eliminate the things that aren’t critical. We have, in the federal government, 342 different economic development programs, often administered by different departments. We don’t need 342. We probably need a lot fewer than 100 of those. We have 40 different programs for workforce training. There are probably 5 or 6 that are really working. We can get rid of some of those. And so what anyone in the private sector’s learned how to do is to focus their resources on those things that have the biggest impact, that are most important. Surely, protecting our country and our defense of our military is critical [as are healthcare and schools]. And the sacrifice we need from the American people, it’s this: it’s saying let the programs that don’t work go. Don’t lobby for them forever.
A: Every bill that comes forward that’s got pork in it and earmarks that are unnecessary, we’ve got to veto them and send them back. But it’s got to be broader than that. We’re going to have to see fundamental changes in the way Washington works. We’re just not going to get out-of-the-box thinking with inside-the-Beltway politics.
ROMNEY: Well, we both agree with the need to cut taxes and have fought to do so. [But] Mayor Giuliani fought to keep the commuter tax, which was a very substantial tax, an almost $400 tax on commuters coming into New York.
GIULIANI: The difference is that under Governor Romney, spending went up in Massachusetts per capita by 8%; under me, spending went down by 7%. I brought taxes down by 17%. Under him, taxes went up 11% per capita. I led, he lagged.
ROMNEY: It’s a nice line, but it’s baloney. Mayor, you got to check your facts. #1, I did not increase taxes in Massachusetts; I lowered taxes. #2, the Club for Growth looked at our respective spending record. They said my spending grew 2.2% a year; yours grew 2.8% a year. But look, we’re both guys that are in favor of keeping spending down and keep taxes down. We’re not far apart on that.
A: I’ve got very different statistics than you do. First of all, there were no censuses taken during that time period, and so any numbers on population are just estimates by various folks. Second, when I came in to Massachusetts, we were losing jobs every single month. Our budget was out of balance by some $3 billion. We turned that around.
ROMNEY: If I’m elected president, I’m going to cap non-defense discretionary spending at inflation minus 1%. That would save $300 billion in 10 years. And if Congress sends me a budget that exceeds that cap, I will veto that budget. And I know how to veto. I like vetoes. I’ve vetoed hundreds of spending appropriations as governor. And frankly, I can’t wait to get my hands on Washington!
[After the inauguration, we did a full] bottom-up analysis, resulting in some somber news. The budget gap for the next year was closer to $3 billion. Further, there was a shortfall in the current year of $600 million. Immediate cuts were necessary to prevent a possible cash crunch. The budget for the next year would test the entire administration team: finding $3 billion would be a real stretch.
The vision had already been set: it was the heart of last year’s campaign. I was determined not only to adhere to our themes, but also to fight for every single promise I had made.
So, the answer would have to be new revenues--marketing and sales. The good news was that companies had already signed on as sponsors, most of them at higher support levels than in prior Olympics. But that was also the bad news: the usual suspects had already been rounded up.
Romney, CEO of the Salt Lake Olympic games, said his experience in Utah taught him waste can be found & rooted out. ”We took things out that were waste, that were unnecessary, the folderol that wasn’t essential to carrying out the mission of a great Olympics,“ Romney said. ”The same thing, I believe, can happen in government.“
Democrats running for governor noted that Romney’s Olympics relied heavily on government subsidy, pulling as much as $1.5 billion from taxpayers.
|Other candidates on Budget & Economy:||Mitt Romney on other issues:|
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader