Mitt Romney speaks to Detroit Economic Club (Transcript, video)
Mitt Romney highlighted his plan for the country’s fiscal furture in remarks to the Detroit Economic Club at Ford Field on Friday.
Watch clips of his remarks here and read a transcript of his prepared remarks provided by his campaign below.
MITT ROMNEY DELIVERS REMARKS IN DETROIT, MICHIGAN
Boston, MA – Mitt Romney today delivered remarks to the Detroit Economic Club in Detroit, Michigan. The following remarks were prepared for delivery:
These changes will not add to the deficit. Stronger economic growth, spending cuts, and base broadening will offset the reductions. Middle-income Americans will continue to enjoy tax benefits that favor important priorities, including home ownership, charitable giving, health care, and savings. But there will be some changes in the current deductions and exemptions for higher-income Americans. Those who receive the greatest benefit from rate cuts will see the most significant limits.
These reforms will grow our economy, increase wages, and create jobs.
If we’re going to get our fiscal house in order, however, we must also fix our nation’s balance sheet. Today, we face $62 trillion in unfunded promises in our entitlement programs. We talk a lot about our $15 trillion of debt. And we’ve got to tackle that debt. But it’s that $62 trillion in unfunded promises that keeps most of us up at night.
A few commonsense reforms will ensure we make good on our promises to today’s seniors while saving Social Security and Medicare for future generations. Tax hikes are off the table, and there will be no change for those at or near retirement. But younger generations will enter a system strengthened for the 21st century.
When it comes to Social Security, we will slowly raise the retirement age. We will slow the growth in benefits for higher-income retirees.
When it comes to Medicare, tomorrow’s seniors will have a choice among insurance providers, including traditional Medicare. As with Medicare Part D today, the private sector will compete to offer insurance coverage at the lowest possible price. Seniors will then receive government support to ensure they can afford that coverage. And with Medicare, like with Social Security, lower-income seniors will receive the most generous benefits.
Starting in 2022, new retirees will participate in this new system. We will gradually increase the Medicare eligibility age by one month each year. In the long run, the eligibility ages for both programs will be indexed to longevity so that they increase only as fast as life expectancy.
With these commonsense changes, we will have fixed our balance sheet. Instead of $62 trillion in unfunded commitments hanging over America’s future, we’ll have a balance sheet that is actually in balance.
My administration will also make the hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts necessary to reduce spending to 20% of GDP by the end of my first term. I will cap it there. And then, without sacrificing our military superiority, I will balance the budget.
There are three ways I’ll get this done. First, I’ll cut programs. I will look at every government program and ask this question: Is this so critical that it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?
Of course, we’ll start with the easiest cut of all: Obamacare, a trillion-dollar entitlement we don’t want and can’t afford. It’s bad medicine, bad policy, and when I’m President, the bad news of Obamacare will be over.
We’ll also cut things like subsidies to Amtrak and funding for Planned Parenthood. We’ll repeal the union giveaway called the Davis-Bacon Act to save taxpayers over $10 billion per year.
Second, we will return federal programs to the states. I will send Medicaid back to the states and cap that program’s rate of growth. And I will do the same for other programs, like food stamps, housing subsidies, and job training.
States are better equipped to perform all these functions. Once the economy is really growing again, I believe that we should return spending on these programs to pre-recession levels, cap their rate of growth, and give the states flexibility and control. Taxpayers would save money, and those in need would benefit from programs that are more effective, efficient, and responsive.
Welfare reform showed us how well a state-led approach can work. Let’s extend that conservative, small-government philosophy across the entire social safety net.
Finally, government itself must be made more efficient. I will shrink the size of the federal workforce by 10% and link the pay and benefits of federal employees to those of their peers in the private sector. Public servants should not make more than the Americans who pay their salaries.
This is a plan to get America back on track. And to get Michigan on track we also need to see a strong and vibrant auto industry.
Let’s learn from the lessons of the past. In my view, the industry got in trouble because the UAW asked for too much, management gave too much, and the government CAFE standards hurt domestic automakers. The result was a cost-penalty per vehicle of about $2,000. Even the best designers and engineers could not overcome that kind of cost disadvantage.
As we look forward, the UAW must not imperil the future of the industry. CAFE standards must not be overly burdensome. The companies must invest in new technology and new markets. We should get government out of General Motors so that its future is determined by the demands of the marketplace, not the preferences of bureaucrats.
And Detroit should not just be the Motor City of America. It must be the Motor City of the world.
My economic plans will strengthen America – and strengthen Michigan.
By making bold cuts in spending and commonsense entitlement reforms, we will make our government simpler, smaller, and smarter. Through pro-growth policies, we will get our economy back on track – and get our citizens back to work. Taken together, the plan I’m offering represents the biggest fundamental change to the federal government in modern history.
These are conservative, pro-growth policies that will not only jumpstart our economy, but will stop the dangerous slide toward a society that values entitlement over opportunity. We will restore the promise of America. More jobs, less debt, smaller government.
Now, I know that President Obama will criticize my proposal. So be it. I believe the American people are ready for real leadership. I believe they deserve a bold, conservative plan for reform and economic growth. Unlike President Obama, I actually have one – and I’m not afraid to put it on the table.
My plan for America requires real leadership – and it calls for sacrifice. It does not require a leader to promise bigger and bigger benefits and something for nothing. It requires a leader to call for sacrifice. And if I’m elected President, I promise you this: Together, we will restore America’s promise. Here in Michigan, the future will once again be full of promise and prosperity. Parents won’t have to wonder if their children will have a better life. They’ll know they will.
Together, we will get our debt under control. We will pursue spending cuts that rein in the deficit, entitlement reforms that tackle our long-term debt, and a pro-growth tax policy that will create jobs, encourage private investment, and foster risk-taking and innovation.
If we pursue the policies I’ve just described, you’re going to see a Michigan with rising home values. Your kids will come out of college and find jobs that are consistent with their skills. Businesses will come here because of your unparalleled workforce. And Michigan will once again be known as an engine of innovation.
I’m not promising that every day will be easy. But I am promising that every day things will get better. Together, we will make America strong again. But to do that, I need your help. Next Tuesday, I need your vote.
If you want to make this election about restoring America’s greatness, then I hope you will join me.
If you believe the disappointments of the last few years are a detour, not our destiny, then I am asking for your vote.
Together, let’s put America on the path toward more jobs, less debt, and smaller government.
Let’s restore America’s promise and create a new age of prosperity for the country that we love.
Thank you. God Bless America.
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