Mitt Romney's speech to the Americans For Prosperity Foundation's annual meeting, Defending the Dream, continued his theme of making government "simpler, smaller and smarter" that he kicked off with a speech in New Hampshire yesterday.
Key amongst his proposals is to get government spending down to 20% of GDP by the end of his first term; cut government spendign by $500 billion/year; support a balanced budget amendment; tie government employee compensation to the private sector; merging government departments; and cutting U.S. foreign aid to countries that don't need it. Interestingly, he described his proposal as a "roadmap" - perhaps trying to draw a comparison to Paul Ryan's "Roadmap" plan.
He hit on the theme of government agency consolidation in saying, "Too many chefs not only spoil the broth, but make it inedible and prohibitively expensive. We've got to combine federal departments."
Romney's outline is certainly less bold than most of his GOP contenders - but being the presumptive frontrunner, he might see little need to rally the base. His spending line at 20% of GDP would be only slightly below the 50-year pre-Obama average and, while it would take a lot of work to even get to that level, means that the budget would basically balance on its own. The CBO's alternative fiscal scenario, which assumes the renewal of the Bush tax cuts for all but the top two brackets, projects tax revenues to rebound to 20% of GDP by the end of the decade.
For comparison's sake, government spending as a percentage of GDP was below 20% for most of the Clinton years, but the entitlement storm means that it's set to explode to nearly 40% over the next fifty years.
Touting his past success, Romney said, "in business, in the Olympics and in Massachusetts, I cut deficits... no one will have to teach me how to do that in the White House."