Mitt Romney: Deficit Balk

By Bill Maher

Let's say you're a deficit hawk, as it seems almost everyone is these days. I give you a choice: Candidate A wants to reform entitlements, cut defense spending, and raise revenues. Candidate B wants to reform entitlements, raise defense spending, and lower revenues. Also, Candidate A's party has a history of lowering deficits, and Candidate B's party exploding them. Who would you trust more on the deficit?

Obviously, Obama is Candidate A, and Romney is Candidate B. It's really not that complicated to determine who would be better on deficit reduction. You don't even have to look at their specific proposals, just the broad approach. Lowering deficits by raising defense spending and lowering tax revenues is simply impossible.

Yet, look at this ABC/Washington Post poll. Asked "who you trust to handle" Medicare, international affairs, taxes, a crisis, the economy, and health care, Obama gets the edge. But what's the one area where Romney has a big edge? Handling deficits.

Economists say Romney wants to increase defense spending by $2 trillion. Where do they get that? He's said repeatedly that defense spending has to be at least 4% of GDP, and that's a $2 trillion charge on the credit card. My first thought was, Romney's not serious; saying defense spending should be at least 4% of GDP is completely arbitrary and stupid. But what if he is serious, and that's his stimulus? Obama's stimulus was only $800 billion, and it included things that actually reduce government spending in the long run, like making all federal buildings more energy efficient.

If this is Romney's stimulus, it's EXACTLY what Reagan did -- nibbled at spending on social programs, while massively increasing defense spending. There's only one problem with it: as Bill Clinton would say, arithmetic. Something's got to give -- and it's the national debt.