As Mitt Romney visits the Commonwealth today, Virginians are rightfully expressing their opposition to the “Cut, Cap and Balance” plan that he and Senate candidate George Allen have promised to enact if elected. Romney and Allen are pitching this extreme slash-and-burn plan on the campaign trail without any mention of the real world impact it would have on Virginia families. The truth is, Romney and Allen’s reckless “All Cuts, No Balance” plan would have terrible consequences for Virginia’s economy.
Romney and Allen’s support for the Tea Party’s “Cut, Cap, and Balance” plan means they will try to solve our fiscal crisis entirely with cuts on the backs of middle and low-income families, while protecting the wealthiest individuals and corporations from sharing any responsibility. By enshrining tax cuts and loopholes that disproportionally benefit the wealthiest Americans and corporations, Romney and Allen’s plan leaves Congress no choice but to make deep cuts to important programs.
The Romney-Allen plan requires a Constitutional amendment limiting spending to 18% of GDP, a level not seen in nearly 50 years. Of course, neither Romney nor Allen has said what would be required to reach 18%. The truth is the arbitrary spending caps imposed by this plan would require deep cuts that would harm Virginia’s economy and be particularly damaging to three areas Virginians care about: Social Security and Medicare, defense spending, and infrastructure investments. The effects will be especially profound in Northern Virginia, where Mitt Romney is visiting today.
Under this “All Cuts, No Balance” plan, millions of seniors who rely on Social Security and Medicare will face deep cuts to services and higher out of pocket expenses. This includes 1.15 million Medicare beneficiaries and 1.3 million Social Security beneficiaries in Virginia. The AARP has rejected the Romney/Allen “All Cuts, No Balance” proposal because of the harmful level of cuts it would require.
Romney and Allen’s extreme spending cuts would destroy jobs, with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimating that 700,000 jobs would be lost across the nation. These cuts would be particularly harmful to Virginia’s economy because of the significant federal investment in our state economy.
In 2009, defense spending alone accounted for almost 16% of Virginia’s gross state product and supported over 1.2 million direct and indirect jobs, according to the Virginia National Defense Industrial Authority. With unemployment already at an unacceptable level, why would anyone champion cuts that are guaranteed to put more Americans out of work? The required level of cuts would also stifle innovation and could reduce our nation’s preparedness and ability to defend itself in a rapidly changing world.
The key to sustained economic recovery and deficit reduction is economic growth. In order to grow our economy we will need a world-class workforce and infrastructure that ensures America’s global competitiveness, but Romney and Allen’s cuts would make these investments nearly impossible. We know that infrastructure spending is a proven job creator and recent studies say that America needs $1.7 trillion over the next eight years just to maintain existing infrastructure, to say nothing of new construction. If we are to grow our way out of this recession we will need modern roads and bridges, a modern electric grid, rail, wastewater treatment facilities, broadband, and other tools of the 21st century economy. The Romney-Allen “All Cuts, No Balance” approach would surrender our competitive advantage and force America to compete in a 21st century economy with 20th century tools.
We all know that significant cuts in federal spending will be part of the equation that gets our deficits under control. These cuts will require shared sacrifice, but economists warn that cutting too severely over the short term could throw the economy back into recession. We did not get to this point overnight and our problems will not be solved overnight. The correct way to reduce our deficit and protect our economy is a responsible and balanced mix of spending cuts and increased revenues to put our country back on the path to fiscal health, a method Americans overwhelmingly support.
I have heard my Republican colleagues and their candidates repeatedly claim that “uncertainty” is holding back businesses. The uncertainty that is hindering businesses here in Northern Virginia is the constant threat to contractors and vendors that their agreements with the federal government will be voided or future work eliminated by reckless plans like “Cut, Cap, and Balance.”
Mitt Romney and George Allen should be honest with voters and tell them exactly how their plan would balance the budget. Their “all cuts” approach will reduce benefits for seniors, lead to higher out of pocket costs for Medicare recipients, destroy jobs across the country and particularly in Virginia, and make our country less competitive in the global economy. Americans know this is the wrong approach and that is why they overwhelmingly reject it. Romney and Allen should end their courtship of the Tea Party vote and do what’s best for Virginia’s families and businesses.
Congressman Jim Moran represents Virginia's 8th district in the U.S. Congress