The Washington Post

The Romney campaign’s idea of `tough decisions’

The other day, Mitt Romney said he wants to “get rid” of Planned Parenthood. The Romney campaign is now pointing out that the context of the remark shows that he was merely talking about getting rid of Federal funding for the organization.

In fairness, that’s obviously true. That said, there’s another aspect of the Romney camp’s handling of this issue that warrants attention.

Here’s how Romney’s spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, put it: “It would not be getting rid of the organization. They have other sources of funding besides government appropriations, but in order to achieve balance, we have to make some tough decisions about spending.”

Tough decisions about spending?

Steve Benen, who first flagged this quote, aptly points out that the idea that cutting Planned Parenthood’s funding would reduce the deficit in any meaningful way is just laughable. Indeed, more broadly, this illustrates that Romney’s fiscal policies in general don’t embody tough decisions at all. They are anything but courageous.

It is not difficult to tell voters that you can solve the deficit only with spending and tax cuts, because cutting taxes on everybody will lead to an explosion of economic growth and revenues that will make our fiscal problems go “poof.” That’s what Romney has said. But this is an easy thing to tell voters.

Romney’s supporters would argue that it’s politically difficult to call for deficit reduction via cuts to Medicare and Social Security. But the point is, Romney’s idea of “tough decisions” is that all the further sacrifices necessary to fix our fical problems must be made primarily by people who rely on federal spending. Either because it reflects his actual worldview or because he’s saying whatever he needs to say to get through the GOP primary, he won’t level with Republican primary voters by telling them tax hikes simply must be part of the solution, and that it’s wildly irresponsible to insist that further tax cuts for the super-rich will make all our problems disappear.

Along these lines, a Democratic reader emailed me this the other day:

What’s heartening to me is that my brother is a Republican who feels his party has abandoned him. He is adamantly against any more tax cuts. He fears his sons and the following generations will be stuck with the massive bar tab run up by the rest of us. We both believe it takes absolutely no courage for a politician to offer tax cuts...especially with a trillion dollar deficit and record numbers of baby boomers retiring.

I wonder how many other people get this.

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.


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