Nationally syndicated talk radio host Hugh Hewitt interviewed Mitt Romney yesterday. During the course of the exchange, Romney answered questions about Republican Super Committee offerings to eliminate key tax deductions, the Dept of Defense, Obama’s rhetoric, and more…
Mitt Romney On The Supercommittee, The President’s Rhetoric About America, China and Afghanistan
By: Hugh Hewitt
Friday, November 18, 2011
Just taped an interview with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney which will air with the transcript posted here. My projection of the state of the race slips into the conversation when I call him “Mr. President” before correcting myself. On a serious note, he asserts that now is not the time to (1) be tinkering with the home mortgage interest deduction or (2) withdrawing the surge troops from Afghanistan even as he predicts it would be very difficult to reintroduce troops into Iraq after our bases our shuttered there.
HH: … Senator Pat Toomey and Representative Jeb Hensarling, two of our Supercommittee Republicans, have put forward a plan that calls for lowering tax rates across the board, and extending the current tax rates permanently, but to do so by cutting three key deductions – mortgage home interest, state and local taxes, and charities. What do you make of their plan, and the extra $300 billion in extra revenue it says it will raise?
MR: Well, I haven’t seen their specific proposal, so I’m not going to sign up for it, of course, without reviewing it. My own view is that the idea of limiting deductions in the way the Bowles-Simpson panel recommended makes a good deal of sense. I’d like to see us have lower tax rates, and have a broader base. And it sounds like their idea is looking for a way of doing that. I must admit, I don’t think that this is a great time to be eliminating the home mortgage interest deduction. We obviously have a lot of trouble in the housing sector right now, but I haven’t seen their proposal. It may work just fine, but I just haven’t seen it, so I wouldn’t want to comment on that. But the home mortgage interest deduction right now is something that I think we need to keep in place.
HH: Let me talk to you about the charitable deduction, because obviously without it, churches, synagogues, schools, hospitals, colleges, they’re all going to get hammered. Is that a good idea for us to weaken the not-for-profit sector?
MR: Well, you know, anytime you talk about lowering the rates and expanding the base, why, you’re talking about eliminating certain deductions. And I for one value the charitable contribution deduction. I recognize that in my own view, the American people do a better job picking charities that make a difference in the lives of people than government does. I mean, government wants to get our money so they can take care of people. I don’t think the government does as well as our charities do, and I’d rather let people in the marketplace of ideas send their money to charities they think will have the biggest impact. So I don’t like getting rid of the charitable deduction, either.
HH: There is a $600 billion dollar sequestration over the horizon, Governor Romney, that if the Supercommittee doesn’t get a deal done, will kick into the Department of Defense in 2013 with devastating consequences. If that happens, if that’s on the calendar to happen because of the failure, will you campaign, if you’re the nominee against President Obama, to reverse that sequestration?
MR: Absolutely. This is a Faustian choice that the President and his people put in place. The idea of drastic cuts to our national security at a time when the world is as dangerous as it is, and when frankly, we have men and women in harm’s way around the world, is a terrible idea. Even Secretary Panetta, who works for President Obama, has said that these cuts would be draconian. And I just, I vehemently disagree with the course that’s being set. I think it was a very bad idea to put our national security on the chopping block, and will, if elected president, reverse those cuts, and reverse the prior cuts that President Obama has made to Defense as well. Look, my view is we need to upgrade our weapons systems, we need to have more troops, more active duty personnel, and we need to increase our commitment to caring for our veterans. We’ve got a lot of veterans who need a lot of help.
Governor Romney has stated his intent to eliminate Defense Dept waste/duplication spending and to implement vigorous bidding for armed services procurement. Savings will be reinvested in our military.
HH: Governor Romney, in just the last six weeks, President Obama has said three extraordinary things. In Orlando, he said, or to an Orlando television station, he said this is a great, great country that has gotten a little soft, and we don’t have the same competitive edge that we needed. In San Francisco, he said we’ve lost our ambition, our imagination and our willingness to do the things that built the Golden Gate Bridge and the Hoover Dam. And in Hawaii, just this week, he said we’ve been a little bit lazy over the last couple of decades. He’s gone from apologizing for America abroad to a soft sort of contempt for it at home. What do you make of this?
MR: You know, I don’t think that President Obama understands America. I don’t think he understands what makes America work. I think his failure to get this economy going flows from the fact that he doesn’t understand how free individuals and free enterprise drive the American economy. He is under the mistaken impression that government is what makes America work. And so he’s done the governmental things he wanted to do, and not surprisingly, they have not worked to help the economy, so he’s trying to find someone to blame. And having begun by blaming President Bush, and then blaming Congress and Republicans and ATM machines, he’s finally come down to blaming the American people. And the truth is, as Harry Truman pointed out, the buck stops at his desk. His desk is where the mistakes have been made, and it is not the American people that don’t know what to do. It’s American people who are being oppressed and overwhelmed by a government that is simply too intrusive in our lives. We’ve got to scale back the size of the federal government. And if we do that, America will be cooking again, and he’s simply wrong to suggest it’s the American people’s fault.
(emphasis added )
Governor Romney also offered his opinion on the European debt crisis and foreign affairs, including China, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Read the entire interview here.
► Jayde Wyatt