Sunday, November 6, 2011

Mitt Romney Joins the Double Speak Group on Cutting Federal Spending

Mittster Wants to Cut Spending; Doesn’t Want to Say Where

When it comes to government spending, Americans hold a self-contradicting position.  Overwhelmingly they want to cut spending, and overwhelmingly they support the government programs whose spending would be cut.  For politicians this might present a problem on fiscal policy, having to support cuts in spending yet having to oppose popular programs.

Politicians solve this problem by taking a position against government spending, but refusing to say which programs they are willing to cut.  Now Republican front runner Mitt Romney (yes you can disregard the polls, Herman Cain is not the frontrunner) has joined the group.

Romney has struggled to win over tea party supporters, and his plan will not go as far as some would like. But he says he would cut $500 billion in his first term as president.

Now that sounds like a lot, but it is $125 billion a year, abut 10% of the deficit.  So this is not going to get the deficit under control.

What about where Mr. Romney will cut?

He would strip Amtrak of federal subsidies, which could threaten the survival of the popular rail network. He would force deep cuts on the National Endowment for the Arts, the Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. And he would cut foreign aid to "countries that can take care of themselves" or those "that don't line up with our interests," he told a New Hampshire audience Thursday night, offering a preview of his Washington address.

which may sound good to some people, but it is only a few percentage points of his total goal.  But then there is this

Among his priorities is a plan to repeal President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, which Romney says would save $95 billion. The savings to taxpayers, however, would be far less. While politically difficult, a full repeal would also undo spending cuts and tax increases elsewhere, ultimately slicing the federal budget deficit by $16 billion, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

One would think that Romney the supposedly astute business person would know his numbers do not add up.  But Romney the politician knows that specifics do not win elections.

Romney's speech comes as congressional leaders struggle to craft a bipartisan plan cut the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion. That debate includes the popular entitlement programs Medicare and Social Security, although Romney's specific vision for those programs is unclear.

He favors raising the retirement age for younger workers and limiting increases for wealthier recipients. And on Medicare, he says government should give future recipients a specific amount to spend and allow them to choose between a private insurance plan or the traditional system, according to an opinion piece this week in USA Today.

He has yet to fill in many of the details, however.

In fact, here are some of Mitt’s specifics from his USA Today piece

eliminate every government program that is not absolutely essential. . .

well that’s specific, isn’t it.

return federal programs to the states where innovation, cost management and reduction of fraud and abuse can far exceed what Washington achieves

translation, cut $100 billion from Medicaid and job training, you know programs that aid the most desperate of our citizens.

Reduce the federal workforce through attrition and align compensation with the private sector, saving over $40 billion by 2016.

cut federal employees compensation, yes, that is what business owners do.  He won't trumpet this plan when he campaigns in Virginia, a huge beneficiary of federal largesse that the Conservative Republicans in that state attribute to their own policies.

Attack rampant fraud in government programs by enacting far stiffer penalties for those who steal from taxpayers

Wait a minute, those are Republicans we are talking about. 

•Consolidate, eliminate and streamline federal departments, agencies and offices following a stem-to-stern review.

How’s that for specifics.

Reforms should not affect current seniors or those near retirement, and tax hikes should be off the table. However, the retirement age for younger workers should be increased slowly to keep up with increases in longevity.

And as for how much should the retirement age be raised and who is affected, wait for it.  No really wait a long time for it, it ain’t coming soon.  As for the plan of giving Seniors an amount to spend on either traditional Medicare or Private Insurance, well, if you have to ask how much that will be, you can’t afford it.

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