In 1968, Richard Nixon ran on a platform that included a “secret plan” to end the war in Vietnam. Does Mitt Romney expect us to believe he has a secret plan to balance the budget?
One way to avoid being called out as a flip-flopper is to avoid taking a stand at all.
For example, Romney says he’ll rein in government spending. Nothing wrong with that. Everybody is in favor with doing more with less. The tough part is actually telling people what they’ll have to give up in order to balance the budget. The trade-offs necessary to balance the budget require clear priorities, good judgement and political courage.
However, Romney wants the benefit of having a conservative approach to the deficit without actually having to commit to cutting any government program in particular. In an interview with the Weekly Standard, Romney declined specify these budget cuts “because it wouldn’t be politically expedient to do so.”
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.
In fact, Romney’s “budget” is not a “budget” since it lacks sufficient details to make sense of. The Committe for a Responsible Federal Budget said that Romney’s plan would cause a $2.6 trillion deficit if it is not paid for. On CNBC, Mitt Romney responded to criticism that the numbers in his budget didn’t add up by admitting
I think it’s interesting for the groups to try and score it because it can’t be scored. Frankly, it can’t be scored.
It can’t be scored as a budget because it is not a budget.
According to Brian Beutler, “Romney’s been intentionally vague about the politically challenging parts of his plan.”
As Ezra Klein says:
Let’s be clear on this: A tax plan that can’t be scored because it doesn’t include sufficient details is not a plan. It’s a gesture towards a plan, or a statement of intended direction, or perhaps an unusually wonky daydream. But it’s not a plan.
So at this point, Romney doesn’t have a plan to reform the tax system. He has a statement about what he would like a reformed tax system to include: lower rates for everyone. But that’s cake-and-ice-cream stuff. All the hard questions — which tax breaks to close, for instance — remain unanswered, and it doesn’t appear that he plans to answer them anytime soon.
If you want to be President, you have to come up with a budget.
Similarly, it is hard to understand where Romney stands on Medicare. In the very same memo released last Monday, the Romney campaign “simultaneously called out the White House for not reducing Medicare spending then attacked them for doing exactly that in the very same paragraph.”