Mitt Romney, the former Republican presidential nominee and current Senate hopeful in Utah, on Monday called out members of his party for putting their long-espoused goal of deficit reduction on the back burner once President Trump won the White House, in a rare mention of the issue by a candidate in this year’s midterm elections.
In a message posted on his Senate campaign website, Romney said that Republicans “have been shouting about this as long as I can remember.”
“We called for an amendment to balance the budget,” he said. “Just a few years ago, the Tea Party movement brought new energy to the issue. But now that Republicans are in charge in Washington, we appear to have become silent about deficits and debt.”
Romney’s 2012 running mate, now-House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), built a reputation as a deficit hawk and a vocal advocate for entitlement reform over his years in Washington. But with Trump’s ascension to the White House, Ryan and other Republicans on Capitol Hill have largely punted on deficit reduction, working instead to pass a $1.4 trillion tax cut as well as a sweeping $1.3 trillion spending bill.
Romney made no mention of either measure in the statement on his campaign website. But he pointed to the country’s $21 trillion national debt as well as a recent forecast by the Congressional Budget Office that deficits will soon balloon to more than $1 trillion per year.
“I’m not saying we should immediately cut one trillion dollars from government spending,” Romney said. “But I am saying, with a booming economy, full employment, a soaring stock market, and record asset values, we should be shrinking the deficit, not growing it.”
In the post, Romney, the former chairman of Bain Capital, sought to strike an everyman tone. He related the story of how he bought his “first house” and was shocked to realize that of his $246 monthly mortgage payment, $241 went toward interest.
That led to a change in how he approached spending, Romney said.
“Henceforth, credit card balances would be paid on-time and in-full,” he said. “If we wanted something we could not immediately afford, we would save before we bought it; I figured we could get about twice as much stuff by saving rather than by buying on credit.”
In his past campaigns, Romney has at times stumbled when making comments about wealth. In 2012, he mentioned that his wife, Ann Romney, drives “a couple of Cadillacs” while he drives “a Mustang and a Chevy pickup truck,” a comment that prompted his campaign to offer up details and drew attention to the fact that his family owns several cars in different states.