A Refresher for Governor Romney

Ben LaBolt, Obama for America National Press Secretary:

Given all the time he has spent campaigning over the past 6 years explaining to the American people that he is not a politician, we’ll give Governor Romney the benefit of the doubt for having failed to read the President’s plans to restore economic security for the middle class and build an economy that lasts.  President Obama has offered a specific blueprint for an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy and skills for American workers.  And whether it’s three months from now or three years from now, he’ll fight to implement those policies in order to restore economic security for the middle class and ensure that hard work and responsibility are rewarded.

Since Governor Romney has been busy campaigning, we’d like to offer him a few highlights as a quick refresher. 

The President laid out a Blueprint for an America Built to Last:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/blueprint_for_an_america_built_to_last.pdf

He delivered a State of the Union address that explained the vision behind the blueprint:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/state-of-the-union-2012

He delivered a speech calling for a return to the economic values that made this country great, where everybody does their fair share and plays by the same set of rules:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/12/06/remarks-president-economy-osawatomie-kansas

But while Governor Romney has been quite specific about putting the finishing touches on his car elevator in La Jolla,  he has hid many of his domestic and foreign policy plans under lock and key. 

IS GOVERNOR ROMNEY’S PLAN TO EXPLODE THE DEFICIT OR SECRETLY RAISE TAXES?

Governor Romney has said that his $5 trillion tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans – over and above the extension of the Bush tax cuts --  can’t be scored.  He says that he would have to work out the details with Congress.  So Governor Romney is never going to disclose during this campaign whether he plans to increase the deficit by $5 trillion or raise taxes on an unidentified segment of the population.

Romney On His Plan: “It Can’t Be Scored Because Those Kinds Of Details Are Going To Have To Be Worked Out With Congress.” Romney: “What I put out in my plan is a series of principles that allow our economy to grow and at the same time maintain a neutral budget impact. And so I haven’t laid out all the details of how we're going to deal with each one of the deductions and exemptions. I think it's kind of interesting for the groups to try and score it because, frankly, it can't be scored because those kinds of details are going to have to be worked out with Congress and we have a wide array of options.” [CNBC’s Squawk Box, 3/7/12]

Economist Joe Barro: Romney’s Tax Plan Would Cost $5 Trillion Over A Decade. Joe Barro, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, wrote for Forbes, “Before base broadening, the plan could be expected to cut federal revenues by about $5 trillion over a 10-year period, compared to a policy of extending 2012 tax policy (except the payroll tax holiday) into the future. On a static basis Romney’s corporate tax cuts would cost about $1 trillion, a 20 percent across-the-board cut in personal income tax rates would run about $3 trillion, and then sundry other proposals (most notably, abolishing the AMT and giving capital gains tax relief to lower- and middle-income households) would cost about another $1 trillion.” [Forbes, 2/22/12]

Romney’s Tax Plan Would Result In A $4.9 Trillion Revenue Loss Over A Decade, Which Means It Is “Not ‘Revenue Neutral’ But, Instead, A Significant Revenue Loser.” “Now, a new TPC analysis (issued March 1) backs up the skepticism with hard facts. It finds that, absent base broadeners, the Romney plan would cut taxes by $481 billion in 2015 alone, translating into a $4.9 trillion revenue loss over the coming decade. Most tax experts believe that's far more than any conceivable set of base-broadeners (i.e., reductions in tax expenditures) could generate, leaving the Romney plan as not ‘revenue neutral’ but, instead, a significant revenue loser.” [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/2/12]

Romney Has Not Named a Single Tax Loophole – Individual or Corporate – He Would Close.  “After promising to retain lots of tax preferences, Romney has no clear way to recoup the revenue he loses by cutting rates. So he offers no specific proposals to broaden the tax base—promising those will come later.” [Tax Policy Center, 2/23/12].

Tax Policy Center’s Roberton Williams On Romney’s Tax Plan: “Nothing Jumps To Mind To Broaden The Tax Base Enough To Pay For The Lower Rates.” “The campaign isn't planning to broaden the tax base enough among the wealthy to offset every tax cut—doing so would be nearly impossible. ‘Nothing jumps to mind to broaden the tax base enough to pay for the lower rates,’ said Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center.” [Wall Street Journal, 2/23/12]

FOR FEAR OF POLITICAL RAMIFICATIONS, ROMNEY WON’T DETAIL HIS CUTS

In an interview published this week, Governor Romney made clear that while he has committed to severe cuts that could have significant implications for middle class families, he will not detail which programs he is cutting for fear of political ramifications.

Romney Suggested He Wouldn’t List Specific Programs He’d Eliminate Or Combine For Fear Of Political Ramifications. “But Romney, ever cautious, is reluctant to get specific about the programs he would like to kill. He did this in his bid for the Senate 18 years ago and remembers the political ramifications. ‘One of the things I found in a short campaign against Ted Kennedy was that when I said, for instance, that I wanted to eliminate the Department of Education, that was used to suggest I don’t care about education,’ Romney recalled. ‘So I think it’s important for me to point out that I anticipate that there will be departments and agencies that will either be eliminated or combined with other agencies. So for instance, I anticipate that housing vouchers will be turned over to the states rather than be administered at the federal level, and so at this point I think of the programs to be eliminated or to be returned to the states, and we’ll see what consolidation opportunities exist as a result of those program eliminations. So will there be some that get eliminated or combined? The answer is yes, but I’m not going to give you a list right now.’” [Stephen Hayes, Weekly Standard, 4/2/12]

• Headline: “Romney Mum On Program Cuts” [Politico, 3/24/12]

• Headline: “Romney Says Talking Specifics Has Hurt Him” [National Journal, 3/26/12]

• Headline: “Romney Chalks Up Detail-Free Policies To Political Considerations” [TPM, 3/25/12]

• “Romney: Yes, I’ll eliminate whole departments, but I won’t tell you which ones” [Washington Post, 3/26/12]

• “Mitt: I won’t detail plans, because then I’d lose” [New York Magazine, 3/26/12]

ROMNEY’S FOREIGN POLICY: HEAVY CHEST THUMPING, LIGHT ON DETAILS

While Governor Romney has no shortage of bellicose rhetoric on foreign policy, he has not followed his tough talk with detailed plans to enhance America’s security or strengthen our alliances.  When Governor Romney wasn’t literally running from reporters’ questions on foreign policy, he has been all over the map on the key foreign policy issues of our time.  He was for and against the removal of Qaddafi.  He said that any President would have authorized the mission to get bin Laden – after having previously said he wouldn’t have moved heaven and earth to do it.  He has no plan for Iraq, and has taken all sides of whether to set a timetable to withdraw our troops from Iraq.  And while he says that Russia is our “number one geopolitical foe,” he barely touches the subject in his platitude-filled foreign policy white paper.

Romney Was Silent On Libya During Speech To Republican Jewish Coalition And “Fled Down A Hallway And Escaped Up An Escalator” To Avoid Reporter Questions On His Position On Libya. “Yet Romney was silent on Libya, the newest and stickiest military and U.S. policy problem as the United States and its NATO allies enforce a no-fly zone to help rebels oust Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. After his speech, Romney refused to take questions from reporters about his position on Libya. Instead, he and his wife, Ann, fled down a hallway and escaped up an escalator at The Venetian, where the event was held.” [Las Vegas Review Journal, 4/2/11]

Daniel Larison: Romney’s Silence On Libya Shows That He Is “Unable To Stake Out A Foreign Policy Position Until After The Republican Consensus Has Formed.” Daniel Larison wrote, “Instead, he had nothing specific to say about it at all, and wouldn’t address questions on Libya when they were posed to him. Romney seems unable to stake out a foreign policy position until after the Republican consensus has formed, and he then adapts himself to whatever that consensus happens to be. This does save him from the acrobatics required to maintain an anti-Obama position when Obama switches from restraint to starting a war, but it is just another reminder that Romney doesn’t hold foreign policy positions so much as he mimics those who do. There was fairly broad agreement in the GOP that the arms reduction treaty was flawed. It didn’t matter whether the criticisms were valid or not. Romney saw an opportunity to become a vociferous critic of the treaty to ingratiate himself with most of the party. Libya is a contentious issue, and the party is evidently split over which position to take, so Romney predictably cannot take one. For someone who is so fond of mocking Obama’s leadership or lack thereof, it is revealing that when Romney has to stake out a position one way or the other on a controversial question he is unable to show any leadership at all.” [Larison, American Conservative Magazine, 4/2/11]

Romney Deflected A Libya Query By A Reporter Saying “I’ve Got A Lot Of Positions On A Lot Of Topics…” “‘I've got a lot of positions on a lot of topics, but walking down the hall probably isn't the best place to describe all those,’ Romney said, deflecting a Libya query as he walked quickly with half a dozen journalists trailing him.” [Las Vegas Review Journal, 4/2/11]

ROMNEY FLIP-FLOPPED ON REMOVING OF QADDAFI

FLIP: Romney Attacked Obama For Calling For The Removal Of Qaddafi Saying “Who’s Going To Own Libya If We Get Rid Of The Government There?” “During remarks in New Hampshire in last month, Mitt Romney accused President Obama of ‘mission muddle’ for expanding United States operations in Libya beyond enforcing a no-fly zone to a wider goal of preventing Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi from attacking his own people. ‘Now the president is saying we have to remove Qaddafi,’ Mr. Romney said at the time, adding, ‘Who’s going to own Libya if we get rid of the government there?’” [New York Times, 8/22/11]

FLOP: Romney Said “The World Celebrates The Removal Of Qaddafi.” “But on Monday evening, as the rebels surged through Tripoli, Mr. Romney told Neil Cavuto of Fox Business Network that ‘the world celebrates the idea of getting rid of Qaddafi.’ And instead of assessing Mr. Obama’s actions, he called on a new Libyan government to extradite the man convicted in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.” [New York Times, 8/22/11]

ROMNEY CLAIMED IT WAS “NOT WORTH MOVING HEAVEN AND EARTH” TO CAPTURE OSAMA BIN LADEN…

Romney Said Of Going After Osama Bin Laden: “It’s Not Worth Moving Heaven And Earth And Spending Billions Of Dollars Just Trying To Catch One Person.”  “In the interview, Romney also said the country would be safer by only ‘a small percentage’ and would see ‘a very insignificant increase in safety’ if al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was caught because another terrorist would rise to power. ‘It's not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person,’ Romney said. Instead, he said he supports a broader strategy to defeat the Islamic jihad movement.” [Associated Press, 4/27/07]

ROMNEY DIDN’T PUT FORTH A PLAN FOR IRAQ IN HIS FOREIGN POLICY SPEECH AND MENTIONED 11 COUNTRIES MORE THAN IRAQ

Romney’s Single Iraq Reference: “Over 1400 of your alumni have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere fighting the war against terrorism.  And sixteen have paid the ultimate price.” [Transcript Of Romney's Foreign Policy Speech, 10/7/11]

Countries Mentioned More Than Iraq: Afghanistan (3), Iran (6), Israel (6), Pakistan (2), China (2), Russia (2), Venezuela (3), Cuba (4), Mexico (2), United Kingdom (3), and Greece (2).

ROMNEY FLIP-FLOPPED ON WITHDRAWING TROOPS FROM AFGHANISTAN

JANUARY 2011: Romney: “It Is My Desire And My Political Party’s Desire To Support The People Of Afghanistan And Not To Leave.” “Although the media have not been invited to his events, a glimpse into Romney’s thinking was provided by an individual who attended the meeting between Romney and the young Afghans and who allowed a reporter to view a video of the event. At one point, Romney said he supports a longer-term US presence in Afghanistan and asked Afghans for their own suggestions about how the United States can help overcome the raging insurgency and endemic corruption here. President Obama’s administration has said it plans to begin reducing the number of US troops in July with the goal of handing over security to the Afghans by the end of 2014. ‘It is my desire and my political party’s desire to support the people of Afghanistan and not to leave,’ Romney said in response to a question about whether the United States was going to pull out of the country soon. ‘So we look to you to tell us the best ways that we can support you.’” [Boston Globe, 1/14/11]

MARCH 2012: Romney Said He Wanted To “Bring Our Troops Home As Soon As Humanly Possible” From Afghanistan. Romney said of bring troops home from Afghanistan: “Let me tell you this, I know why we're involved in Afghanistan and I know what it's going to take for us to be successful and to bring our troops home. I want that to happen as soon as humanly possible. As soon as that mission is complete.  And that mission is to pass along to Afghanistan a security force there that's capable of maintaining the sovereignty of that nation such that we can get out, they have the capacity to build their own nation. We will not - we will not be able to hand on a silver platter their freedom. They will have to fight for that, earn it, keep the Taliban from taking it away from them. But we've given them that opportunity. We're going to finish the job of passing it off to them and bring our troops home as soon as humanly possible.” [Romney Town Hall, Dayton OH, 3/3/12]

• Romney: “We Will Not Be Able To Hand On A Silver Platter Their Freedom. They Will Have To Fight For That, Earn It, Keep The Taliban From Taking It Away From Them. But We've Given Them That Opportunity. We're Going To Finish The Job Of Passing It Off To Them And Bring Our Troops Home As Soon As Humanly Possible.” [Romney Town Hall, Dayton OH, 3/3/12]

ROMNEY FLIP-FLOPPED AGAIN ON SETTING TIMETABLES FOR AFGHANISTAN WITHDRAWAL

JUNE 2011: Romney Criticized President Obama’s Announcement Of A Troop Withdrawal Timeline In Afghanistan Saying “The Taliban May Not Have Watches, But They Do Have Calendars.” “Romney praised the decision to send additional troops to Afghanistan, but criticized President Obama’s announcement of when troops will withdraw. ‘The Taliban may not have watches, but they do have calendars,’ Romney said.” [Boston Globe, 6/3/11]

DECEMBER 2011: Romney Concurred With The Afghanistan Timeline Laid Out By The Obama Administration. Romney: “The timeline is that by the end of 2014, we will be completely be out of Afghanistan. There may be a small group of troops that stay for training or coordination purposes but that our fighting forces will be out by the end of 2014. I think that's the right timeline and we'll see in the interim if we can move more quickly than that or not and we'll listen to the progress on the ground but I continue to concur with the decision of the former and current administration that our goal has to be out by the end of 2014 if not before.” [Conway, NH Town Hall, 12/22/11]