Romney’s support of a constitutional amendment to balance the budget is costless and meaningless. When Republicans proposed passing a balanced budget amendment over the summer, they couldn’t explain how they’d get the support of two-thirds of state legislatures that such a measure would require. Neither can Romney. He doesn’t even try.
His proposed spending caps probably don’t mean much either. Obviously, there’s no legislation yet. But if Romney’s cut, cap, and balance plan is anything like the one put forth by House Republicans, it will contain exemptions for three of the biggest drivers of federal spending: Medicare, Social Security, and the war on terror.
Maybe Romney’s plan would have more bite? Doubtful. Yesterday, Romney told the New Hampshire Union Leader that he opposes even the modest defense spending reductions included in the debt deal trigger. Instead, he wants to ensure that defense spending accounts for at least 20 percent of the federal budget. Cutting defense spending, he told the Union Leader, would be “a grave mistake” during a “time of war.”
What about Medicare? Well, what about it? Despite the fact that Medicare is the biggest single driver of the long-term federal debt, Romney’s explanation of how he’d cut spending doesn’t mention the program at all. Oh sure, the former Massachusetts governor claims he’s more than willing to commit to repealing ObamaCare (maybe, possibly, if he has to)—despite signing a law that provided the model for the federal overhaul.
But when it comes to Medicare, he’s not ready for anything so drastic. Quite the opposite. When Romney does talk about Medicare, it’s to criticize President Obama for cutting the program.