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GOP2012: Republican debate, December 15th, 2011
The Reality
Fact Check

Romney Embraced the Congressional Republican’s Cut, Cap and Balance Plan

January 19, 2012 at 09:15 P.M.

Tonight, “Say Anything” Mitt Romney claimed he’s ready to support veterans and help middle-class Americans. Yet Romney would privatize veterans’ benefits and privatize Medicare by giving seniors vouchers.  His support for the Republican budget plans means deep cuts in programs Americans count on, but he’s committed to arbitrarily increasing military spending.  No matter how you look at it, Romney’s claims just don’t add up.


Romney Said He Would Cut Spending, Cap Spending At 20 Percent GDP And Support A Balanced Budget Amendment.  “As president, I pledge to reduce spending to 20% of GDP by the end of my first term. I will cap it at that level.  And further, I will put us on a path to a balanced budget and a constitutional amendment that requires the government to spend only what it earns.” [Romney Spending Address, 11/4/11]

House Republicans’ Slogan: “Cut, Cap And Balance.”  “House Republicans are voting this week on their own dream: a constitutional amendment to enshrine their budget views and eliminate the need for compromise with Democrats, forever. The slogan for this campaign is ‘cut, cap and balance.’ The bill Republicans are promoting this week would condition any increase in the debt limit on immediate spending cuts, caps on future outlays and congressional passage of a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.” [Bloomberg, 7/19/11]

The Balanced Budget Amendment Without Any Tax Increases “Would Necessitate Deep Cuts In Social Security, Medicare, And Medicaid.” [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 7/16/11]



Romney Said He Would Tie Military Spending To A Minimum Of 4% Of GDP And Cut Total Government Spending To 20% Of GDP. John McBride, Union Leader:  “You argue that military spending should be at a minimum 4 percent of GDP.” Romney:  “Yes” McBride: “And that Obama is taking it in another direction. You argue that we need at a minimum 100,000 more army and marine troops alone as wells as sprucing up our nuclear submarine fleet, etc etc” Romney: “Yeah, yep.” McBride: “My question is, in this economic time, how the heck are you going to pay for this?”  Romney: “Well as you know the federal government assumes right now, or spends right now about twenty-five percent of the GDP. Under more normal circumstances, if we’re about to bring back federal spending to a balanced level why it will consume about twenty percent of the GDP. So to say the national defense is going to take four points of that twenty or roughly twenty percent of twenty is in my opinion an appropriate investment for a nation that sees the world with a number of very threatening forces in it… I look and say it should remain at least twenty percent of our federal budget, of our federal spending which is roughly four percent of our GDP.” [Union Leader Editorial Board Interview With Mitt Romney, Aired 10/3/11]



Romney’s Plan Would Decimate Medicare And Social Security, And Could Devastate Programs Like Pell Grants And The FBI. “Taking half a trillion dollars out of $3.6 trillion works out to a 14 percent reduction. (To be precise, it would be 14.1 percent.) Applied equally to all non-defense spending, that would mean approximately $130 billion less for Social Security and about $90 billion less for Medicare, just in 2016 alone. To give you a sense of context, the Medicare cuts in the Affordable Care Act amount to around $50 billion a year in 2016. And those cuts, unlike Romney's, are largely offset by expanded spending on Medicaid and subsidies for private health insurance, thereby cushioning the blow on the health care system. Of course, Romney could decide to exempt Medicare and Social Security. But then the cuts for other programs would have to be much higher: 25 percent, on average. And when I say “other programs,” I mean every other non-defense thing the government does: Education, transportation, environmental protection, safety net programs, law enforcement…you get the idea. Can we afford to spend a quarter less on highways? How about the Centers for Disease Control and the FBI? Or Head Start, food stamps, and Pell Grants?” [Cohn, The New Republic, 1/15/12]

Romney’s Budget Math Does Not Add Up As “His Anticipated Savings May Not Materialize” And Because Romney Wants To Cut Taxes And Spend More On Defense. “Some of his anticipated savings may not materialize, according to budget experts. And he wants to cut taxes and spend more on defense even as he pledges to bring spending down to 20 percent of the U.S. economy.” [Bloomberg Businessweek, 11/14/11]

Former Reagan Budget Director David Stockman Suggested Romney “Takes A Remedial Math Course” As Romney “Can’t Get To 20 Percent Of GDP On Spending” Without Cutting The Defense Budget And “Sharply Reducing Social Security Payments” To More Affluent Retirees.“‘Romney may be our only hope, so let's hope he takes a remedial math course before January 2013,' says former Reagan administration budget director David Stockman. 'You can't get to 20 percent of GDP on spending without taking a fire ax to the Pentagon budget and sharply reducing Social Security payments to the more affluent current retirees.'" [Bloomberg Businessweek, 11/14/11]

Dean Baker: To Keep His Pledge Of Capping Spending At 20% Of GDP, Romney Would Have To Take “An Ax” To Social Security And Medicare. “Romney has offered proposals for major changes in entitlement programs, including Social Security and Medicare, without specifying any reduction in individual benefits. He says there would be no difference in either program for current retirees or ‘those near retirement.’ Without offering details, Romney says he would ‘slowly raise the retirement age’ and cut benefits below current projections for higher-income recipients. He proposes supplanting the current fee-for-service Medicare program with a government subsidy that would allow individuals to buy private health insurance providing at ‘least the same level of benefits,’ or to continue in the current program… Those changes wouldn’t be enough if Romney wants to keep spending within 20 percent of gross domestic product, says economist Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. ‘You’re really talking about taking an ax to these programs,’ he says.” [Bloomberg Businessweek, 11/14/11]



Romney Suggested Privatizing Veteran’s Benefits And Giving Veterans Vouchers For Health Care. “Mitt Romney suggested on Friday that he was open to partially privatizing the health care veterans receive from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs by creating a voucher system that would allow private sector competition. ‘If you’re the government, they know there’s nowhere else you guys can go, you’re stuck,’ Romney told a group of veterans at Mutt’s BBQ restaurant in South Carolina. ‘Sometimes you wonder if there would be some way to introduce private sector competition, somebody else who could come in and say each solder has x thousand dollars attributed to them and then they can choose where they want to go in the government system or the private system with the money that follows them. Like what happens with schools in Florida where people have a voucher that goes with him,’ Romney said.” [ABC News, 11/11/11; Romney Veterans Roundtable In Maudlin, SC, 11/11/11]

Romney’s Suggestion Of Using A Voucher System For Veterans’ Health Care “Echoed” Portions Of His Medicare Plan. “He also briefly floated the idea of using a voucher system to help veterans get reliable and quality health care, an option that echoed portions of a Medicare plan he recently rolled out at the Americans for Prosperity Foundation’s annual summit.” [New York Times,11/11/11]



Romney’s Plan Touted Medicare Vouchers. “Tomorrow's Medicare should give beneficiaries a generous defined contribution and allow them to choose between private plans and traditional Medicare. And lower-income future retirees should receive the most assistance. I believe that competition will improve Medicare and the coverage that seniors receive.” [Romney Op-Ed, USA Today, 11/3/11]

Romney’s Medicare Plan Would “Partially Privatize Medicare For Future Recipients, Offering Premium Support Payments – I.E. Vouchers.” “As for Romney, his plan to cut government spending dramatically and overhaul federal entitlements was largely overlooked during last week's episode of ‘As Cain's World Turns.’ The former Massachusetts governor would preserve Medicare for current retirees and those nearing the age of enrollment into the program. But Romney would partially privatize Medicare for future recipients, offering premium support payments -- i.e., vouchers -- to buy into the program or they could take their chances in the private insurance market. Speaking of Romney's offer to use that payment to stay in Medicare, how is that not a ‘public option’?” [CNN, 11/9/11]

Romney Unveiled A Plan To “Fundamentally Re-Shape Medicare” That Would Introduce Vouchers Or “Premium Supports”. “Mitt Romney on Friday unveiled a plan to fundamentally re-shape Medicare, tackling one of the 2012 presidential contest's most delicate issues before a skeptical crowd of tea party activists. To cut costs, the Republican presidential hopeful and former Massachusetts governor would introduce vouchers, or ‘premium supports,’ to future recipients of the popular health insurance program for the elderly.” [Associated Press, 11/4/11]

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