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BRIDGE BRIEFING: Romney And Sequestration

Romney Showed No Leadership On Debate Leading Up To Sequestration

Romney Refused To Comment On Debt Ceiling Negotiations

Romney Was Criticized By Other Republican Presidential Candidates For Staying On The Sidelines During Debt Ceiling Talks. According to The New York Times, “Mr. Romney, who has been criticized by fellow Republican candidates for remaining largely on the sidelines during the recent debate over the nation’s debt ceiling, defended himself by saying that he had maintained a consistent, if quiet, position throughout the partisan bickering in Washington, favoring the ‘cut, cap and balance’ plan passed by the House and defeated by the Senate. ‘I didn’t react day to day to every negotiation because my position was clear,’ he said. ‘Cut, cap and balance was the right way for America to deal with this financial distress.’” [The New York Times, 8/8/11]

Romney Was Criticized By Santorum And Pawlenty’s Campaign For Showing No Leadership On The Debt Ceiling Fight. According to The Wall Street Journal, “Republican presidential candidates have used the debate over raising the nation’s borrowing limit to score points with conservative voters and insert their views into Washington’s thorniest political dispute. But Mitt Romney, the Republican front-runner, has taken a subtler tack, avoiding the issue of the debt ceiling as he presses a more general assault on President Barack Obama’s economic record. That has attracted the attention of his GOP challengers, who have begun to accuse him of ducking the most vital issue of the campaign so far. ‘The current debate is about what kind of leadership you’re going to show,’ former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said in an interview Monday. ‘If you’re running for president, you’ve got to show how you would handle a situation like this.’ ‘The debt ceiling is a gut-check time for all Republicans on spending and size of government,’ said Alex Conant, spokesman for former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. ‘Apparently, Gov. Romney is still checking his gut to figure out where he should stand.’” [The Wall Street Journal, 7/12/11]

Washington Post: Romney’s Opposition To The Debt Ceiling Deal, After Weeks Of Silence On The Issue, Was “Completely Irresponsible” For A Candidate For President. According to an opinion in The Washington Post, “I didn’t begrudge Mitt Romney’s weeks of silence on the debt ceiling, although I understood Democrats’ efforts to prod the Republican front-runner out of hiding. As a political matter, Romney had nothing to gain from engaging in the nitty gritty of deal-making. He could stand above the fray while everyone else squabbled and horse-traded and looked smaller by comparison. But Romney’s just-announced opposition to the deal is truly deplorable… It’s one thing for Romney to pretend that, if only he were president, the Senate would have rolled over and dutifully passed his cut, cap and balance approach. Good luck with that one, President Romney… But is he really calling on Republican lawmakers to vote down the deal? I understand the political allure of this position: Hellooo Tea Party. Take that, Michele Bachmann. But unlike his earlier ducking, this opposition—at the 11th hour and 59th minute, by the way—is completely irresponsible coming from a man who could easily be president. You can only hope that when Mitt Romney talks, House Republicans don’t necessarily listen. If this man is willing to act so cavalierly in pursuit of the presidency, what would he do in office?” [The Washington Post, Opinion, 8/1/11]

Sarah Palin Had No Respect For What He Did During The Debt Increase Debate, Waiting Until After The Deal And Saying He Didn’t Like It. According to Mediaite, while appearing on Fox News’s ‘Hannity,’ Sarah Palin said, “Getting closer to make the decision for legal reasons, for practical reasons. Still haven’t made up my mind. I want these candidates, I want them not to be sitting back — bless his heart, I have respect for Mitt Romney — but I don’t have respect for what he did in this debt increase debate. He wait until it was a done deal and more money would be spent. Then he came out and he made a statement, he didn’t like the deal after all. You can’t defer an issue and assume that the problem is going to be avoided. No. We defer issue like not speaking out on how you believe about an issue we’ve got gone through as a nation, but you are inviting a crisis. Mitt Romney and other candidates they need to get out there and tell the electorate. Don’t just wait and sit back.” [Mediaite, 8/2/11]

Romney Felt “No Need” To Weigh In On The Day To Day Negations On The Debt Ceiling Debate. According to The Hill, “Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) pushed back Monday at critics of his relative silence during the debt-ceiling fight in Congress, saying his position was ‘clear’ all along. Romney said he felt no need to weigh in on day-to-day negotiations and the different proposals to authorize more U.S. borrowing because he had signed the ‘cut, cap and balance’ pledge backed by a number of conservatives and other presidential contenders. ‘I think it was June 30, I came out and signed the ‘cut, cap and balance’ proposal,’ Romney said during remarks before the New Hampshire Chamber of Commerce. ‘I don’t think you can be any clearer than that.’” [The Hill, 8/8/11]

Romney Wanted The Supercommittee Negotiation To Fail

Romney Criticized Obama For Not Working “Every Day And Many Nights” With The Supercommittee Members To Secure A Deal. According to The New York Times, “Calling Mr. Obama’s handling of the situation ‘inexcusable,’ Mr. Romney seemed determined to pin the failings of the Congressional committee on deficit reduction on the president. ‘What’s most disappointing about that is that our president has had no involvement with the process,’ Mr. Romney said. ‘I find it extraordinary that there would be set up a committee, with such an important mission as finding a way to provide fiscal sanity in America, and with the penalty, if that fiscal sanity is not found, of a $600 billion cut to our military. I would have anticipated that the president of the United States would have spent every day and many nights working with members of the supercommittee to try to find a way to bridge the gap, but instead he’s been out doing other things — campaigning, and blaming, and traveling.’” [The New York Times, 11/21/11]

The Wall Street Journal: Romney Encouraged The Super Committee To Fail.  According to The Wall Street Journal, “Reality: Did the president really do nothing to help bridge the chasm between Republicans and Democrats on the deficit ‘supercommittee?’  The president may not have helped the supercommittee to succeed, but former Gov. Romney actually encouraged it to fail.  Just one day before the supercommittee gave up and admitted defeat—just when the politicians needed some courage to make tough choices—Mr. Romney was urging Republicans to hold firm against any increases in taxes.  The facts show that both increased spending and reduced revenues contributed to today’s debt problem. Poll after poll shows that the American people want a solution that would include both spending cuts and more revenues.   The Democrats proposed a balanced plan, but Republicans—cheered on by Mr. Romney—insisted that tax revenues would make no substantive contribution to deficit reduction.  The supercommittee failed.”  [The Wall Street Journal, 11/27/11]

Romney Declined Supporting A Deficit Reduction Plan Offered By Republicans Without Looking At A Specific Proposal. According to The Associated Press, “Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on Friday declined to back a deficit-cutting plan offered by some GOP lawmakers that includes increased tax revenue while comparing the supercommittee process created to help balance the federal budget to a deal with the devil. The former Massachusetts governor, who leads many polls in race for the GOP nomination, declined to endorse the proposal offered by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., that would raise revenue by limiting the tax breaks enjoyed by people who itemize their deductions, in exchange for lower overall tax rates for families at every income level. A growing number of Republicans in Congress have said they would support a tax overhaul package that increases revenues if it is paired with significant spending cuts. But Romney said he was withholding his endorsement because he hadn’t seen a specific proposal. ‘I’m not going to sign up for it, of course, without reviewing it,’ Romney told radio host Hugh Hewitt.” [The Associated Press, 11/19/11]

Romney Rejected Simpson Bowles For Including A $1 Tax Increase For $10 Of Spending Cuts

Romney Rejected The Simpson-Bowles Plan, Refusing To Support $1 Of Tax Increases For Every $10 Of Spending Cuts. According to The New York Times, “There is strong support in the business community for a big deficit-reduction plan. All the bipartisan and independent recommendations are along the lines of those put forth by a majority of both Democrats and Republicans on the Bowles-Simpson panel. It calls for a $4 trillion deficit reduction over 10 years; 35 percent of that amount would be achieved through tax increases and 65 percent through spending cuts, especially of entitlements. Mr. Romney praises the concept of Bowles-Simpson and rejects the plan, insisting he wouldn’t support even $1 of tax increases for every $10 of spending cuts. Deficit reduction plans that focus almost exclusively on spending won’t attract Democratic support and probably are politically unpalatable because they would require draconian Medicare cuts.” [The New York Times, 6/24/12]

Ryan Served On The Simpson-Bowles Debt Commission And Was Open To The Chairmen “Offends” Everyone Approach That Would Raise Revenue By Rewriting The Tax Code And Cuts Spending. According to an op-ed by Dana Milbank of the Washington Post, “The Bowles-Simpson plan has something to offend everybody, as it should. It would slash spending – including for the military. It would raise tax revenue by rewriting the tax code and eliminating popular deductions. It would seek to cut Medicare costs, reduce Social Security benefits and gut agriculture subsidies…Interestingly, though, the reaction from Republican lawmakers has been significantly more favorable than McConnell’s no-way, no-how view of compromise. Republican Reps. Paul Ryan (Wis.), Jeb Hensarling (Tex.) and Dave Camp (Mich.), all members of the commission, called it ‘a provocative proposal.’ Another commissioner, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), said that ‘if we do the cuts, I’ll go for it.’ If a budget hawk such as Coburn can get on board, any Republican can. Beyond that, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which led the opposition to Democrats in 2010, conceded Thursday that ‘any solution will require commitment and sacrifice on both the spending and revenue fronts.’ In those statements are the contours of a deal Obama could strike with Republican lawmakers such as Ryan, the incoming House budget chairman.” [Washington Post, Dana Milbank, 11/14/10]

A Romney Adviser Admitted Romney’s Campaign Would Not Have A Simpson-Bowles Level Of Detail. According to Politico, “‘Paul Ryan is a big-idea guy,’ the Romney official said. ‘We’re going to be able to talk about policy and real issues. We need this race to be about bigger things, about the future of the country.’ Still, if you hoped that Romney’s selection of Ryan was going to touch off an epic war of ideas — maybe even with Ross-Perot-style charts and graphs — you’ll be badly disappointed. ‘What you’re going to see is a campaign that has clear direction, but not a Simpson-Bowles or Ryan-budget level of detail,’ the Romney adviser said. ‘It’s not only politically unwise to do that, but it’s not how the voters engage in a presidential campaign.’ Another risk is that the clarity of Ryan’s ideology and policy specifics are likely to become muddled. That could backfire politically if it alienates conservatives who are thrilled with the Ryan pick but could become grumpy if they feel he is being muzzled or constrained.” [Politico, 8/17/12]

 

Paul Ryan Voted For Sequestration

Ryan Voted For The Sequestration Measure Leading To The Possible Fiscal Cliff. According to CNN, “Romney’s vice presidential pick, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, voted for passage of the sequestration measure last year. It was signed into law by Obama on August 2, 2011 and was also supported by Democrats. At the time, he said then the measure represented ‘a victory for those committed to controlling government spending and growing our economy.’ He continued in his statement, ‘The agreement – while far from perfect – underscores the extent to which the new House majority has successfully changed Washington’s culture of spending. No longer can Washington endlessly spend money it does not have.’” [CNN, 8/22/12]

Ryan Said His Vote For Budget Control Act Was In Support Of Deficit Reduction Effort And Not Defense Sequester. According to The Hill, “On CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’ Sunday, Ryan argued that his vote for the BCA was not a vote for the defense cuts under sequestration, but rather a ‘down payment’ on deficit reduction. ‘The goal was never that these defense cuts actually occur,’ Ryan said. Ryan said that the House Republicans have already passed a bill that he authored to reverse the sequester for 2013. ‘We passed in the House a bill by cutting spending elsewhere. The Senate does nothing,’ he said.” [The Hill, 9/9/12]

 

Ryan’s 2010 Budget Plan Contained Sequestration Plan

Ryan Plan Proposed Automatic Spending Cuts To Mandatory And Discretionary Programs Including The Defense Department. According to the Washington Post, “As introduced in 2010, Ryan’s ‘Roadmap for America’s Future’ would have created ‘a mechanism to automatically slow the growth in faster-spending entitlement programs’ by requiring the White House budget office ‘to make across-the-board spending reductions in both mandatory and discretionary programs’ if overall federal spending breached specified limits. The Defense Department would have been a target for cuts, House Budget Committee aides confirmed Monday, though the impact would have been limited to 1 percent of any agency’s budget. ‘It’s fair to say we think we need to have enforcement mechanisms to achieve these reductions,’ said one senior budget aide, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity. ‘But every time Paul Ryan has done it, it’s been part of a plan to actually get spending down to these levels. . . . It was meant as a backstop to force action.’ That enforcement mechanism was not included in the budget resolutions that passed the House in 2011 and earlier this year, the aides said, in part because budget resolutions lack the legal power to create and enforce such caps. Ryan included the mechanism only in the fiscal “roadmaps” he offered as stand-alone legislation beginning in 2008, when House Republicans were in the minority.” [Washington Post, 9/17/12]