The Right Opinion

Mitt Romney, Big-Government Man

By John Stossel · Oct. 10, 2012

President Obama tanked in the last debate. Good.

Now maybe people will listen when Mitt Romney says things like, “The genius of America is the free enterprise system, and freedom, and the fact that people can go out there and start a business. … The private market and individual responsibility always work best.”

They do.

But then Romney responded to Obama by essentially saying: I want big government, too!

We who hope for smaller government as a way to expand liberty and create prosperity are disturbed by what we heard last week. The GOP candidate painted himself as a big government man.

“Regulation is essential. … Every free economy has good regulation.”

He added the obligatory, “Regulation can become excessive,” but showed no sign of understanding that free competition – unrestricted by government monopolistic privilege – is the best regulation. Nothing better protects consumers and workers than free choice in a competitive marketplace.

Romney also made it clear that he doesn't want to reduce government revenues. He insisted that his 20 percent cut in tax rates would be revenue neutral.

“In order for us not to lose revenue – have the government run out of money – I also lower deductions and credits and exemptions so that we keep taking in the same money when you also account for growth.”

I'm all for slashing deductions and simplifying taxes, but the 1980s taught me to be wary. The top rate went back up – from 28 to 39.6 percent at one point – but the deductions repealed are likely gone forever.

Then Romney said, “I'm not looking to … reduce the revenues going to the government.”

Why not? The less revenue in government hands, the more private individuals can do wonderful things with it.

Romney emphasizes revenue neutrality because he doesn't want to be accused of proposing to increase the budget deficit, which he repeatedly pounded Obama over. He could avoid that charge by calling for spending cuts. Our deficit is a spending, not a tax revenue, problem. The federal government already collects $2.6 trillion! That's more than enough.

Romney says, “I will eliminate all programs by this test: Is the program so critical it's worth borrowing money from China to pay for it? And if not, I'll get rid of it.”

Great. But I don't believe it. He did say he'd take away Big Bird's and Jim Lehrer's appropriation. Fine. Big Bird doesn't need the money. PBS-like programming will thrive without taxpayer handouts, and America shouldn't have “government TV” anyway. But the cut would be only $445 million out of a nearly $4 trillion budget. Big deal.

He also said he'd “make government more efficient.”

Gee, haven't other politicians thought of that? The claim is meaningless. That promise is made and broken year after year. Efficiency requires a market test, but since government gets its money by force, there is no market test.

He said he'd “combine some agencies and departments” and cut back the number of employees.“ But he quickly added: "through attrition.” Attrition! That isn't leadership. It isn't even management. “Attrition” means good people leave and the deadwood stays. I suppose Romney fears losing votes from government workers. Much of the time, Romney endorsed government spending. “I do not believe in cutting our military.”

Never mind that we now spend at Cold War levels and that our military tab is as big as the rest of the world's combined.

He criticized the federal government's many worthless job training programs, but did he call for repeal? No: “We got to get those dollars back to the states.”

On America's useless Education Department: “I'm not going to cut education funding. I don't have any plan to cut education funding and grants that go to people going to college. I'm planning on continuing to grow.”

Geez. Grow? What good would that do? The feds already suck $100 billion from state taxpayers only to return it later with strings. It hasn't improved test results. The department has been a complete waste of money. If the Republican candidate won't even eliminate that intrusive bureaucracy, there's little hope.

Maybe Paul Ryan will do better at the vice presidential debate tomorrow night.

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27 Comments

Army Officer (Ret) in Kansas said:

If you want Big Government now and Bigger Government tomorrow, vote for Obama (Democrat).

If you want Big Government now, but want to wait a few days before you get Bigger Government, vote for Romney (Republican).

If you don't want Big Government at all, vote for Gary Johnson (Libertarian).

We've played "Hold my nose and vote for the lesser of two evils" for too long. It's now or never for liberty - we CANNOT go another four years of Democan / Republicrat rule.

The cliff is looming. Unless we RADICALLY change course, we WILL crash... and soon. In a way, Republicans should want Obama to win. The blame for the coming crash will be laid at the feet of the president and his party. It can be either Obama or Romney, but it seems probable that one or the other will preside over the disaster that we have made both imminent and inevitable.

Yes: the crash is THAT close, and neither Obama nor Romney will avoid it. At this point it's like a game of reverse musical chairs. Who will be sitting in the Oval Office when the music stops?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 1:17 AM

Ct-Tom in NC replied:

I agree, BUT.... The way the game is played (odd man out), Johnson is screwed. There is no way for him to win. So, a vote for him works out to one less for Romney. I believe that Romney is the (much) lesser of the two evils we're likely to wind up with and I would hate to see Obama get in b/c a good guy (Johnson) got what amount to sympathy votes.

Barring a *really big thing*, a huge war or something, putting our govt. in reverse is going to be just about impossible. For now, I am willing to settle for the "few days" you say we'll get with Romney. Sad, but there it is.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 8:16 AM

wjm in Colorado replied:

It won't be Johnson, and if you vote for him you are really voting for Obamao. Don't be a fool. You really need to be working your local area to get TEA Party individuals elected to Congress, where they can do their job and send legislation that Romney can sign, and if he is too moderate they can override. Obamao's election will end the Music of our Republic and America will be no more. Vote for Johnson if that is what you want, and feel good in your chains.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 10:41 AM

Git R Dunn in Alabama replied:

wjm and ct-Tom,

A vote for Johnson IS a vote FOR Johnson and the delivery of a message that you will not vote for a New World Order candidate. In no way can a vote FOR Johnson be considered a vote for anyone else. A Libtard could make the argument that a vote for Johnson is a vote for Romney by your logic. So stop it. The election is already decided and President Romney will oversee the financial collapse that will allow the New World Order to conquer America without firing a shot (well, after they restore "order" ;-)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 12:12 PM

wjm in Colorado replied:

Thanks for your idiot (as In Lenin, the useful kind) post. A third party vote only helps Obamao, and if you can't see that you shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a ballot box. The election is not yet decided, that will happen in November. Keep your head thoroughly burried up your rectum, and enjoy your slavery to Government if you vote for Johnson. But you can feel good about yourself in your chains.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 6:15 PM

Andy in Raleigh, NC replied:

Amen to that. I told our local folks that I would only work phones and walk streets for Tea Party type conservatives, and they cut the materials they were giving me in half. We need genuine conservatives, and we need to beat the deadwood out of the party.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 1:33 PM

Army Officer (Ret) in Kansas replied:

A vote for Gary Johnson is a vote for... wait for it... Gary Johnson. Obama will not get my vote, nor will Romney lose it. If there were only two candidates on the ballot I would write in, "None of the above." Romney is not losing my vote - he cannot lose what he never had. Romney never even TRIED to win the votes of Constitutionalists like me. Republicans treat conservatives like Democrats treat blacks - as pet voters they can abuse with impunity. They're going to screw you over because they know you'll vote for them anyway.

As for the TEA Party thing: I hope TEA Party candidates get elected, and I also hope they actually stick to their principles (unlike the last group we sent to Washington who wasted little time joining the establishment).

But I was unaware that Romney was running for congress as a TEA Party candidate. If you have a point to make, you'll need to explain to me how my voting for Johnson for president has anything to do with TEA Party candidates being elected to congress.

Facts are facts, and when Republicans hold congress and a RINO is in the Oval Office, congress lets the president (who is the leader of their party) have his way. You wrote, "...if he [Romney] is too moderate they [a conservative Republican congress] can override..." Who's being naive now? When was the last time a Republican congress overrode a veto by a Republican president? On the other hand, when a Democrat is in the Oval Office even a weak Republican congress (which is the best we're going to get) opposes him.

So.. which is preferable: a RINO president WITH NO congressional opposition or a liberal president WITH congressional opposition? If you say the former you are naive. If you say the latter then you would understand that "A vote for Romney is a vote for Obama" in that we'll get similar results no matter which one wins.

You can vote for Romney if it makes you feel better, but understand that when you do you are voting for a continuation of our current trajectory. May your chains rest lightly upon you. I just wish Republicans would stop helping the Democrats forge them for the rest of us.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 1:43 PM

wjm in Colorado replied:

I have a hard time believing you were ever an officer, with such a lack of cogent arguement. Maybe you fell on your head too many times. Facts are facts, and a vote for Johnson only helps Obamao. You will be the one with chains. You are so wrong on so many levels, I wish you well, but would hope you just stay home. America doesn't need people voting who don't have a clue.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 6:19 PM

Army Officer (Ret) in Kansas replied:

You guys kill me. Completely and utterly clueless about the fact that you're living on the Republican plantation. I guarantee you this: if Romney wins, four years from now you will be less free than you are now, and the nation will be in more debt than it is now... And Big Bird will probably still be on the government payroll.

You have naively swallowed the Republican lie they've been making to conservatives since before I was born. The lie that, since slow poison takes longer to kill you than fast poison, you MUST keep taking it every four years - rather than JUST ONCE supporting the guy who says, "Hey, why don't we just stop taking poison AT ALL?" WHY? Why do you continue to forge our chains? Because he isn't going to win this time (because "conservatives" like you won't vote for him)? And since, "[Insert year] is the mostest importantist super-duperist election in the whole history of the whole wide world (just like the last time... and the every time before), that you MUST hold your nose and vote for us, because a vote for [insert RINO here] is the only thing that will stop the sky from falling in the next 10 seconds if we get [insert Democrat here]."

We're all going to end up in chains because "conservatives" keep rewarding bad behavior. Any chains we end up wearing will say, "Made by useful idiots." Thanks for nothing.

And if you question my right to vote after retiring from the military as a field-grade officer and going to war... you can kiss my [fourth point of contact].

I'm not expecting you or MAC to vote for Johnson. I know that conservatives would prefer another dose of slow poison in the hopes that somewhere over the rainbow the Republicans will nominate someone who will actually eliminate something (rather than just slow the growth). Dream on.

Not. Going. To. Happen.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 11:28 PM

Robinius in Broomfield, Colorado replied:

Let me know how good you feel about your vote for Johnson the day Obama is sworn in. You seem to be pretty full of yourself and you don't really seem to care about America. Some of us have matured and understand how things are in the real world. Good luck with the rest of your fantasies. Johnson will lose and you will be pissed. What will you have accomplished?

Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 10:15 PM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA said:

I just can't wrap my mind around voting for Gary Johnson. He may actually be the better candidate but doesn't stand a snow balls chance in hell of getting elected. Every vote he takes away from Romney gives Odumbo a better chance of getting reelected. It is more important in my mind to get rid of Odumbo and his corrupt administration than to worry about the two-party system.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 10:02 AM

Army Officer (Ret) in Kansas replied:

You have committed a logical fallacy, Sarge: to posit that Romney is losing something when I vote for Johnson is to assume that I would vote for him if Johnson were not running. I would not. Romney does not "own" my vote. I do not "owe" him my vote. Romney did not "lose" my vote: he never had it and made no attempt to convince Constitutionalists like me that I should reward him with it.

All my life I have heard the refrain, "This election is the mostest importantist election in history, so we all have to get behind [insert RINO here] to avoid four years of [insert Democrat here], or the sky will fall."

They said it when Nixon beat Humphrey then kowtowed to China and turned SE Asia over to the communists.
They said it when Ford lost to Carter and the sky stubbornly refused to fall and then he lost in a landslide.
They said it when Bush beat Dukakis, then partially gutted the Second Amendment.
They said it when Clinton won - twice - but was slapped around by Congress... to the point that we got more serious welfare reform than any Republican administration before or since.

I'm not defending Carter or Clinton, by the way. I'm just pointing out that we've been sliding toward the abyss all my life, and every time we've had a chance to elect a Constitutionalist we're told that we MUST hold our noses and vote for a Republican instead, because THIS election is too important. The story is always the same - only the date on the calendar changes and the abyss gets a little bit closer.

We're looking out over the abyss now. It is too late to stop it and the time for half-measures is past. Romney is, at best, a "half-measure" candidate. I cannot stop the crash, but I can go over the edge with the rest of my countrymen knowing that I voted against the "two-party" system that caused it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 2:11 PM

wjm in Colorado replied:

You ARE voting for Obamao, and will be complicit in the destruciton of America if you are so deluded you cannot see what you are doing. Please stop the maddness, get a clue, and vote for the only sane choice in ending a marxist takeover and destruciton of America. Johnson is not the answer.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 6:22 PM

Army Officer (Ret) in Kansas replied:

No... but you are voting for a continuation of Obama's policies, only at a slightly slower pace. But you and MAC can keep holding out for your Republican savior to ride in on his white charger and scale back government. In the meantime we keep getting closer to the tipping point when nothing we can do will suffice. We may already be past it.

Vote how you like: I don't care. As much as I can't stand Obama, Romney will prove Stossel and me right if he's elected.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 11:37 PM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA replied:

You don't have to hold your nose and vote for Romney. Of course, no one owns your vote. You are free to vote for whomever you choose. Romney may not be the answer to all of our problems but anyone would be better than Obama.. Those of us who support Romney love the constitution just as much as you do but also know we can't stand another four years of Obama. By the way, you don't think much of your fellow countrymen if you are willing to see them go over a cliff just because you don't like the two-party system.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 9:15 PM

MNIce in Minnesota replied:

I challenge you to ask these questions, in the next few days, of a couple of dozen people with whom you do not ordinarily converse:

Who is Gary Johnson? What do you know about his political opinions? Do you know what office he is running for? Who is his running mate?

I would not know the answer to the last question without looking it up, and I suppose I follow politics as closely as any ordinary working man. I would not be surprised if you found at most one or two people who would answer with something more accurate than "Um - an actor? No, wait, I think he's an NBA player."

The point is, it is difficult to make a reasonable case for a presidential candidate to 100 million potential voters in less than two years, much less three weeks. We're looking over employment applications for the most important executive position in one of the richest and most powerful nations on earth. We, the people, should not make our choice on insufficient information. The majority of us made that mistake in 2008, and we will be paying for it for a full generation, if not longer. It's too late to make the case for Gary Johnson to a majority of the voters in this election.

Gary Johnson asserts that if he gets 5% of the vote, it will end the two-party system forever. I don't understand that argument. John Anderson got 7% in 1980, and Ross Perot got nearly 20% in 1992, but the two-party dominance still prevails. Simply tacking on a party name won't make the difference; Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose run as a socialist (27%, 1912) seems to indicate that.

Both parties have shifted their philosophy over time, often by absorbing various minor party factions or dissatisfied deserters from the other party. Lately, the Republican Party is being dragged kicking and screaming towards a more originalist view of the Constitution - a trend I wholeheartedly approve. The Republicans have a long way to go, but this is also the case for a significant share of the American electorate. The Democrat Party, on the other hand, has slid so far to the left that the Communist Party - USA hasn't even bothered to nominate a presidential candidate since 2004; they have simply endorsed Barack Obama. The differences between the Democrats and Republicans are real. The differences between the Democrats and Communists are not.

Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 12:16 AM

Rocky in Houston said:

While I agree with you Stossel, and in truth of all the Presidential candidates prefer the Libertarian...I'm also practical and realize that the choice really comes down to Romney vs. Obama...not hard to pick that one.

Hopefully what happens over the next several years is the Democrat party self-destructs (a real possibility considering it's core extreme liberal leadership) and the Libertarian party ascends to fill the vacuum and create an even better choice for our posterity.

Either way I believe the 'special interest state' has exhausted itself and we will see a real discourse on the role of government...The Tea Party is not likely to go away now but rather to continue as a force. In fact, I see where Ron Paul has essentially opened the door for libertarianism to become the true driving force in American politics.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 10:39 AM

wjm in Colorado replied:

I think you have nailed it, very good comment and I concur. At this moment in time, we must vote against Democrats with candidates who can win.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 10:42 AM

Andy in Raleigh, NC replied:

My dream as well. Where both main parties are limited government focused, and we're arguing over social issues! I'm all over that. I just wish there weren't such a huge mass of people who've been conditioned and trained to expect govt to do for them...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 1:35 PM

JTG in Indiana said:

Stossel - you of all people should know better. Romney is purposely generalizing for obvious reasons. I don't view him as a big government guy.
I think that you will see him set aside 964 executive orders when the time comes as there should be no remnants from the Obama regime left standing.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 10:54 AM

Abu Nudnik in Toronto said:

You've got a lot of good points, John, but the man is running for public office. It is certainly a spending problem but politically we have a dependency culture that needs weening. Putting the ship in reverse will only lead to a socialist backlash. A long wide turn is what's needed and Romney/Ryan are perfect for that part.

About regulation, why do you say the comment on too much regulation was "obligatory." What if it wasn't? Is there any doubt that government's job is to govern? That means regulation eg... to regulate interstate commerce.... Government isn't the only monopoly. It should never be allowed to be in business *because it writes the rules* but monopolistic practices, price fixing, combines and cartels are also a threat to a free market.

A vote for Gary Johnson is noble I suppose but it's really an Obama vote and a 5th justice who will agree with Ginsburg and Kagan. Kagan believes in the constitution.... of Thurgood Marshall, not the framers!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 11:02 AM

Tex Horn in Texas said:

Stossel is right. The era of big government will not end with Romney. And while I am Libertarian like Gary Johnson, Gary will not be president. What we might get from Romney is a move from socialism promoted by the Socialist-in-Chief in the White House now. That alone is enough to get me to vote for Romney. So again, the choice is free enterprise or socialism. As a Libertarian, I choose free enterprise. Since FDR, no Republican president has eliminated useless government departments. On the contrary, they have created more departments. Bush gave us the Homeland Security Department. Who among us would disagree that it is a big fat joke and that our personal liberties have taken numerous solid hits? So let's be real about these things: Gary Johnson will not be president; Romney will not significantly reduce the size mod government; but, perhaps we can rid ourselves of the socialist in the White House and get back on the road to a free enterprise system where we have the right to "build that."

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 11:12 AM

Bill in Texas replied:

Sidenote Tex: Would Bush have given us the Homeland Security Department without 9/11? Personally, I think not, since security was working pretty well up to that point. Something to tihink about.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 11:28 AM

Howard Last in Wyoming replied:

Bill, don't forget the unPatriot Act, Homeland Security (isn't that some misnomer) and the Thousands Standing Around (TSA). During most elections I could vote for a third party candidate and not effect the outcome as Wyoming is overwhelming Republican by better than two to one. But Barry is an out and out Communist and by some fluke I am scared he could get the three electoral votes of Wyoming.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 12:06 PM

I built it guy in Canton, MA said:

One thing I got out of the debate that no one talks about is that Romney will raise taxes but not in the way the Barracracy of Obamanation interprets it. I like Romney's plan for raising taxes... BY CREATING 12 MILLION TAXPAYERS AND NOT TAX USERS.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 7:40 PM

demsarerats in Oregon said:

John, re "Regulation is essential. ... Every free economy has good regulation," you go overboard when you slam that particular Romney statement which is, within reasonable limits, accurate.

You may recall that Romney used the example of “set up banks in their garage;” if you think that reserve requirements for banks are an example of over-regulation then perhaps you also believe that your insurance company should be allowed to invest all their reserves in subprime mortgages, or to have no reserves at all, but fortunately Romney has better sense than that.

You make many good points; your frenzy to jump on Romney for that particular statement wasn’t one of them.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 11:26 PM

Robinius in Broomfield, Colorado said:

John Stossel, you are naive. You may as well vote for the tooth fairy as for Gary Johnson. Obama thanks you! I'm sure you don't read these comments because you think only your libertarian views matter. Join the rest of us in the real world. You are too old to think like this, grow up!

Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 10:27 PM