Romney’s campaign promises: Fact or fiction?

Mitt Romney: Promises, promises (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is making campaign promises that could produce an economic miracle — or a more predictable list of broken vows.

Romney says he wants to put the nation on a path to a balanced budget while also cutting an array of taxes, building up the Navy and Air Force and adding 100,000 active-duty military personnel. He says he would slash domestic spending and reduce tax loopholes but has offered few details.

His comments raise eyebrows in Congress, long accustomed to easier-said-than-done promises. And even some conservatives have their doubts.

Christopher A. Preble, a vice president for the libertarian Cato Institute, says Romney’s promise to push military spending to 4 percent of the national economy would require dramatic increases that would raise, not lower, the federal deficit.

Citing “the absurdity of Romney’s plan,” Preble wrote recently that the candidate “hasn’t said what other spending he will cut, or what taxes he would increase.”

“Until he does,” Preble wrote, “it is logical to conclude that he plans to pile on more debt.”

Romney says he will avoid that problem by making courageous cuts to federal programs if elected.

“I have three major ways that we can get ourselves to a balanced budget,” he told voters this month in Warwick, R.I. “Number one is to eliminate some programs. Stop, eliminate them. Not just slow down their rate of growth. But look at programs and say, ‘Too many, too big, too expensive, too ineffective, get rid of it.’ Some programs you’re going to like. I’m going to ask for sacrifice. But the sacrifice will not be taking more from your wallet…. I’m not going to give anybody any free stuff.”

Other Romney proposals would make states responsible for programs such as Medicaid, and reduce the federal workforce by 10 percent “through attrition.”

It’s not uncommon for candidates to promise unspecified spending cuts. Often, however, they find it extremely difficult to fulfill the pledges once elected. That’s one reason the nation’s debt has soared under Republican and Democratic presidents and congresses alike.

Romney has shown little willingness to cut popular programs so far. He joined President Barack Obama, and bucked some House Republicans, by backing an extension of low college loan rates for middle-income students, a $6 billion government cost.

Voters may understand that candidates can’t or won’t keep all their promises.

“You campaign in fiction, and govern in fact,” said Tom Davis, a former congressman who headed the Republicans’ House campaign committee from 1998 to 2002.

He noted that Obama quickly backed off his campaign promise to close the Guantanamo Bay prison. Obama also pledged to tamp down Washington’s partisan tone and to overhaul immigration laws, neither of which has happened.

Davis said it’s the general thrust of Romney’s proposals that matters most, not every specific item.

“What he’s trying to do is sketch a different vision,” Davis said. Details of how Romney’s proposals will pan out, if he’s elected, “will be determined by Congress and events,” he said.

Rep. Steve LaTourette, R-Ohio, said Romney’s proposals “are aspirations” more than firm promises. If elected, Romney may have to revisit his current rejection of tax increases and his vow to leave Social Security and Medicare unchanged for current and soon-to-be recipients, LaTourette said.

Romney and Obama “have to come to the realization that a big deal,” which includes tax increases, spending cuts and changes to Social Security and Medicare, “is the only way” to address the nation’s deficit dilemma, LaTourette said.

Romney calls for a host of tax cuts. But independent analysts say they will worsen the deficit unless offset by deep and politically unpopular spending cuts.

Romney would keep the Bush-era tax cuts, and further reduce all marginal income tax rates by 20 percent. He says he would lower the corporate tax rate, eliminate the estate tax, push a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and make $500 billion in unspecified domestic discretionary spending cuts in 2016.

He wants wider exploration for energy, including oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR.

Such promises draw loud cheers at GOP rallies. But for decades, Republican-run and Democratic-run congresses alike have rejected ANWR drilling, a balanced budget amendment, deep spending cuts and other mainstays of Romney’s campaign.

Whether these campaign ideas are called proposals, aspirations or promises, they are easier to talk about than to achieve.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press

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13 Responses to "Romney’s campaign promises: Fact or fiction?"

  1. Almandine  April 28, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    “You campaign in fiction, and govern in fact,” seems to sum it up.

    We all know that no President can ever push thru all of his own agenda when there are 535 others in Wash DC that get a say.

    So what’s your real point Babington?

  2. thomas bonsell  April 29, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    We have repeatedly tried the Romney proposals and all have failed.

    We cut taxes three times for the aristocracy and let corporations run wild all through the 1920s and the result was the Great Depression.

    We cut taxes for the aristocracy and got “government off the backs of business” in the 1980s and got the savings&loan debacle, Enron and utilities failure and corruption throughout industry.

    We cut taxes for the aristocracy and worshipped deregulation under George W. Bush and got the worst recession since the Great Depression.

    But now Romney wants to try it again.

    Spending cuts also are losers.

    We cut spending after WWI and got the recession of 1920-21 that some call a depression. Herbert Hoover reacted to the failing economy in 1932 by cutting government spending and turned an ordinary depression into the Great Depression. FDR relented to right-wing whining in 1937 and cut spending after four years of economic recovery and the GDP lost 13% of its value and unemployment skyrocketed from 14% to 19%. After WWII we cut spending and got the recession of 1948-49. Gerald Ford inherited Richard Nixon’s recession and cut spending that only made the recession worse. George Bush the Daddy got Colin Powell and Dick Cheney to make plans to cut spending after the fall of the Berlin Wall. They cut billions out of defense spending (the Peace Dividend) in California and the recession turned into a depression in California. That state still hasn’t recovered.

    The only solution is to end the free loading enjoyed by millionaires and billionaires who pay extremely low or no taxes and the multiple corporations that don’t pay taxes but have trillions of dollars stashed in overseas tax shelters.

    • Almandine  April 29, 2012 at 3:15 pm

      Another round of economic theorizing according to the great bonsell, thomas?

      Was it tax cuts or overzealous fractional reserve banking and the effects of the Business Cycle that caused the Great Depression?

      Waiting… waiting….

      Was it tax cuts or overzealous fractional reserve banking that caused the S&L crisis?

      HINT: L. William Seidman, former chairman of both the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Resolution Trust Corporation, stated, “The banking problems of the ’80s and ’90s came primarily, but not exclusively, from unsound real estate lending.”

      Is it lack of taxes or mammoth spending that has us $15T in debt?

      Yeah, thats it… invoke the Buffet rule and garner $31B, or so, in new revenue over the next decade. That’ll balance the budget… burp!

      Clearly, current Executive Branch policy will do even more than did the actions of the Banks and the S&Ls to disrupt our economy. How about going straight for the throat?

      • thomas bonsell  April 30, 2012 at 5:48 pm

        No one said tax cuts caused the S&L scandal, but “getting government off the backs of business” did. That caused the “bad loans” which were more like looting because there was no economic “law and order” remaining.

        You clearly miss the point on everything. Tax cuts for the aristocracy have never improved the economy, and have often done the opposite of what is promised. Cutting government spending has never improved the economy and has done the opposite of what is promised.

        The “Buffett Rule” has nothing to do with ending the freeloading by hundreds of corporations.

        What got us in this $15-trillion debt is conservative economic fantasies put into practice, and you had to open the can of worms about Executive Brach policy.

        Let’s see how you like it.

        Ronald Reagan came into office when the budget was $678 billion. He left when it was 1.143 trillion (a 68.8% increase in 8 years). Tax receipts rose moderately

        Papa Bush went from 1.143 trillion to 1.461 trillion (a 27.8% increase in 4 years). Tax receipts almost matched spending increases.

        Bill Clinton’s spending increased 1.461 trillion to 1.863 trillion (a 27.5% increase in 8 years). Tax receipts far outpaced spending increases.

        Buffoon Bush took spending from 1.863 trillion to 3.518 trillion (a 88.8% increase in 8 years).Tax receipts were little changed from what they were at the beginning of Buffoon’s reign of incompetence.

        Obama’s first budget was $3.456 trillion, down from what Buffoon Bush left. Obama’s follow-up budgets have stayed fairly close to what he inherited. Tax receipts rose by $60 billion while spending fell by $60 billion.

        Any honest person can plainly see our massive debt problem is the result of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

        • Almandine  April 30, 2012 at 11:36 pm

          Silly me…

          “We cut taxes for the aristocracy and got “government off the backs of business” in the 1980s and got the savings&loan debacle…”

      • thomas bonsell  April 30, 2012 at 6:05 pm

        PS;

        Could you explain to me why the S&L industry was plagued by “bad loans” under Ronald Reagan but never had that problem under Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford or Carter. And has not had that problem following Reagan.

        You remind me of that California GOP official who told a Seattle talk-show host that Clinton wasn’t responsible for the surpluses during his regime; they were all caused by businessmen making sound economic decisions without explaining why there were no sound business decisions made during Reagan’s sever recession, Papa Bush’s recession or Buffoon Bush’s two recessions, the latest the worst since the Great Depression. Nor did she explain why there were no sound business decisions during Nixon’s two recessions, the second passed off to Ford, who only saw matters worsen, maybe because business decisions also worsened. Why is it that sound business decisions were only made during the administrations of Clinton, Kennedy and Johnson and now under Obama?

        Get real. Conservative economic ideas never work and only make matters worse.

      • thomas bonsell  April 30, 2012 at 8:31 pm

        PPS:

        Some more stats to rattle the cage of a right-wing nut job.

        Reagan increased spending by 68.8%, but tax collection by only 60%. (8years)

        Daddy Bush increased spending by 27.8% but tax receipts by 16.5%.(4years)

        Buffoon Bush increased spending by 88.8% but tax receipts by only 5.7%. (8years)

        Clinton increased spending 27.5% and tax collections by 72.5%. (8 years)

        In his first two budgets Obama has increased spending by $85 billion but tax receipts by $200 billion. See how much good that “stimulus” produced.

        As any sane person can see, the three right-wing Republican nut jobs are at the heart of the debt problem, because their spending increases far exceeded growth in tax collections, while the two Democratic administrations have tax receipts far outpacing spending growth that isn’t even keeping pace with inflation and population growth. The present administration did not cause the problem, it only inherited everything.

        • Almandine  April 30, 2012 at 10:52 pm

          That’s it… go ad hominem (as usual) since your numbers and your ideological analysis never amount to anything near the truth. And the reason for that is you NEED so badly to whack “right-wing nut jobs” that you can’t just absorb reality and get what it actually means. You have to “create” your own reality. You have to call others names to feel bigger, badder, and better. You have to act so holy. (Act being the proper descriptor.)

          I almost feel pity. Almost.

          • thomas bonsell  May 1, 2012 at 3:59 pm

            Wrong again.

            I get my facts and figures from reliable sources such as the “Statistical Abstract of the United States.” You should try it sometime except for the fact that conservatives never do research. They only repeat a right-wing lie enough and circulate it amongst themselves long enough that it soon becomes their “truth.”

            You are displaying what Sigmund Freud coined “transference”; that is attributing to others for what is despicable in yourself.

        • Almandine  April 30, 2012 at 11:25 pm

          Just a single example regarding your budget argument above… including the amount actually spent in the “Buffoon Bush” and “Big Zero” years… taken from:

          http://www.usfederalbudget.us/federal_budget_estimate_vs_actual_2011_XXbs1n

          2005 – 2,853.5 (Actual 2,472.0)
          2006 – 2,882.9 (Actual 2,655.1)
          2007 – 2,921.8 (Actual 2,728.7)
          2008 – 2,985.5 (Actual 2,982.5)
          2009 – 3,107.4 (Actual 3,517.7)
          2010 – 3,997.8 (Actual 3,456.2)
          2011 – 3,720.7 (Actual 3,603.1)

          Yeah, only an $85B increase attributable to Zero… burp!

          If the truth wasn’t so easy to find, you’d do a whole lot better with your bogus fantasies.

  3. Jon  May 1, 2012 at 1:31 am

    ““Number one is to eliminate some programs. Stop, eliminate them. Not just slow down their rate of growth. But look at programs and say, ‘Too many, too big, too expensive, too ineffective, get rid of it.’”

    I just wanted to add that this is an absolutely classic example of throwing out the baby along with the bathwater.

    J.

    PS – It’s called ‘deregulation’. Those regulations were put into place to keep the economy stable and to keep a few from looting the many. When the regulations got removed, you got booms and busts and a few looting the many. Why did this surprise anyone? J.

    • woody188  May 1, 2012 at 4:39 pm

      Nice work. Love it.

      • Almandine  May 1, 2012 at 9:34 pm

        Nah… deregulation is not defunding.

Comments are closed.