When discussing Mitt Romney’s record on the economy, one of the most important things to examine is his budget. What are his plans for the federal budget if he’s elected? How does he intend to address the stagnating economy or reduce the deficit? Is it possible for Romney to bring back the budget surplus last seen during the Clinton administration?

It’s hard to figure out exactly what a Romney budget will look like, because he hasn’t actually come out with a specific budget proposal. This isn’t unusual; he’s running for office and any budget proposal is likely to have aspects that could be politically dangerous.

He has, however, made several statements over the last few months regarding policy goals that would certainly have an impact on his budget. These statements can be found in the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report. I have also listed them below.

1) Cap total spending. Romney said that, as President, he would “reduce federal spending to 20% of GDP by the end of my first term” and then prevent it from rising above that level.

2) Increase defense spending. He said he would “set a core defense spending floor of 4% of GDP,”

3) Cut taxes. Romney will permanently extend the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 as well as a variety of other tax cuts that are scheduled to expire in the coming years. He will also eliminate capital gains taxes for low and middle income families, reduce the corporate income tax, get rid of the estate tax, and repeal the new taxes introduced in the Obama administration’s 2010 healthcare law.

4) Balance the budget. As he said, “I am planning on balancing the budget.

He has also indicated that he will not cut social security and that there would not be any significant budget cuts in 2012 or 2013, as that would “cause us to enter into a economic decline”.

According to the budget analysis from the CBPP:

For the most part, Governor Romney has not outlined cuts in specific programs. But if policymakers exempted Social Security from the cuts, as Romney has suggested, and cut Medicare, Medicaid, and all other entitlement and discretionary programs by the same percentage — to meet Romney’s spending cap, defense spending target, and balanced budget requirement — then non-defense programs other than Social Security would have to be cut 29 percent in 2016 and 59 percent in 2022.

The cuts that would be required under the Romney budget proposals in programs such as veterans’ disability compensation, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for poor elderly and disabled individuals, SNAP (formerly food stamps), and child nutrition programs would move millions of households below the poverty line or drive them deeper into poverty. The cuts in Medicare and Medicaid would make health insurance unaffordable (or unavailable) to tens of millions of people.

My Dad is an ex-Marine who fought in the Vietnam War. So I find it particularly repugnant that Romney would cut disability compensation for veterans, who have sacrificed more for our country than many of us (myself included) can possibly imagine.

Furthermore, as indicated by the CBPP report, cuts in those programs would push millions more Americans below the poverty line or deeper into poverty. The cuts in Medicare and Medicaid would result in more emergency room visits for non-emergency matters, contributing further to rising healthcare and insurance costs.

While these cuts would likely take place well into Romney’s first term, a reduction in discretionary government spending of 29 percent by 2016 would result in the loss of millions of jobs across the country at the federal and state level.

Even if the economic recovery has picked up steam by then – which appears unlikely if the federal government doesn’t begin pursuing growth-oriented programs – mass layoffs on such a scale could easily push the economy back into recession.

The non-partisan Tax Policy Center estimates that the tax cuts proposed by Romney, including an extension of the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, would cost $4.9 trillion over 10 years.

Romney’s proposed cuts would allow him to balance the budget on the backs of the working poor while cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans.

Based estimates by the Congressional Budget Office and Tax Policy Center, Romney’s budget cuts will actually be more severe than those in the Paul Ryan budget. Ryan proposed $5 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years, while Romney’s cuts would total between $7 and 10 trillion.

In short, the statements that Mitt Romney has made regarding his budget priorities are nothing new. They’re a continuation of the same failed Bush-era policies that reversed the budget surpluses of the Clinton years, causing the fiscal crisis in the first place.

Like Romney said in his April 24 presumptive nominee ‘victory’ speech, “it’s still about the economy, and we’re not stupid.”

You’re right, Mr. Romney. We’ve seen your budget proposals, “and we’re not stupid”.

Please visit parts 1 and 2 of my discussion on Romney’s economic policies for analysis of his statements on foreclosure and the auto bailouts.

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