Romney on Spending and Debt

Romney: How I’ll tackle spending, debt.

There are three ways to reduce spending, which combined, will achieve a fiscal turnaround of this size.

First, eliminate every government program that is not absolutely essential. There are many things government does that we may like but that we do not need. The test should be this: “Is this program so critical that it is worth borrowing money to pay for it?” The federal government should stop doing things we don’t need or can’t afford. For example:

•Repeal ObamaCare, which would save $95 billion in 2016.

•Eliminate subsidies for the unprofitable Amtrak, saving $1.6 billion a year.

•Enact deep reductions in the subsidies for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and theLegal Services Corporation.

•Eliminate Title X family planning programs benefiting abortion groups like Planned Parenthood.

•End foreign aid to countries that oppose America’s interests.

Second, return federal programs to the states where innovation, cost management and reduction of fraud and abuse can far exceed what Washington achieves. I will block grant Medicaid and workforce training, saving well over $100 billion in 2016.

Third, sharply improve the productivity and efficiency of the federal government itself. Where we do want the federal government to act, it must do a better job. For instance:

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

•Repeal the Davis-Bacon Act, a union giveaway that artificially raises costs for government projects, and save taxpayers more than $10 billion a year in the process.

•Attack rampant fraud in government programs by enacting far stiffer penalties for those who steal from taxpayers. Cutting improper payments in half could save more than $60 billion a year.

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

These three approaches, applied systematically throughout government, will produce a fiscal turnaround. But that achievement will be short-lived if we do not also ensure that both Medicare and Social Security are made sustainable for future generations. 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 Social Security benefits for higher income recipients should grow at a slower rate than for those with lower incomes.

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