Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) said Wednesday that he supports a pledge put forth by some congressional Republicans and conservative groups calling for significant spending cuts and caps as well as a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution in exchange for a vote this summer to raise the country’s debt ceiling.
“I am for cut, cap and balance,” Romney told reporters after a Capitol Hill meeting with Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), according to the Salt Lake Tribune’s Tommy Burr.
Lee, a freshman and founding member of the Senate Tea Party Caucus, has been one of the leading proponents of the “cut, cap and balance” pledge. Although a coalition of more than 100 conservative groups has promoted the pledge, only a dozen Republican senators have signed on.
In a statement after their Capitol Hill meeting, Lee said that he welcomed Romney’s support for the pledge.
“I appreciate Governor Romney taking the time to meet with me today,” Lee said. “I expressed my view that we are currently dealing with the critical fiscal issues of this generation and that we need strong leadership on these issues. I was happy to hear that Gov. Romney supports the Cut, Cap and Balance Pledge including a Balanced Budget Amendment—one of my top priorities—and that his focus remains on growing the economy to create good jobs for our country.”
Romney joins former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty (R), former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and businessman Herman Cain in signing the pledge.
One GOP White House hopeful, former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, has said he does not plan to sign the pledge. Another, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), has not announced her plans.
Romney’s announcement comes as Senate Republicans are doubling down on their calls for a balanced-budget amendment to be included as part of any comprehensive deficit-reduction plan this summer.
Passing such an amendment would be a tall task, however, requiring a two-thirds majority in each chamber of Congress, followed by the ratification of three-quarters of the state legislatures. When the Senate voted in March on a symbolic balanced-budget measure proposed by Lee, only 11 members of the Democratic caucus supported the resolution.
On top of that, the requirements of the balanced-budget amendment proposal that all 47 Senate Republicans have lined up behind are stringent, mandating a balanced budget for each fiscal year, calling for an 18 percent cap on the ratio of spending to GDP and requiring any tax increase receive a two-thirds-majority in both chambers to pass.
Not even the House-passed fiscal 2012 budget would meet those standards, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters Wednesday.
“Practice what you preach,” Schumer said. “The Ryan budget had I believe $9 trillion in deficits. It did not balance the budget.”
In addition to meeting with Lee, Romney is also slated to huddle Wednesday with Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch (Utah), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Scott Brown (Mass.), Jim Risch (Idaho), Thad Cochran (Miss.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.).