Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will return to Iowa today for the first time since the state’s January caucuses, where he will highlight the national debt and target President Obama for “add[ing] more than $5 trillion to it” — ignoring that the majority of the added debt since Obama took office is the result of Bush-era policies.
According to excerpts of his speech, Romney will lay out America’s responsibility to address the “prairie fire of debt” that “threatens what it means to be an American”:
Today America faces a financial crisis of debt and spending that threatens what it means to be an American. Here in the heartland you know in your hearts that it’s wrong. We can’t spend another four years talking about solving a problem that we only make worse every day. [...]
A prairie fire of debt is sweeping across Iowa and our nation and every day we fail to act we feed that fire with our own lack of resolve. This is not a Democratic or Republican problem. That fire could care less if you have a donkey or an elephant in your front lawn, it’s still coming for your house. There’s plenty of blame to go around for both parties. But in my years leading businesses, an Olympics and a state, I’ve learned one simple principle of leadership that never falters: Leaders lead. I will lead us out of this debt and spending crisis.
There’s one major problem with Romney’s rhetoric: his economic plan makes the debt worse. Romney’s tax plan gives a 20 percent across-the-board tax cut to all Americans and repeals the Alternative Minimum Tax, costing $10.7 trillion over the next decade and reducing federal revenues to just 15 percent of GDP, according to Center for American Progress Director of Tax and Budget Policy Michael Linden. Romney hasn’t offered a plan to pay for those cuts, instead simply asserting that he will balance the budget.
But balancing the budget under those terms would be next to impossible. Even if Romney limits tax deductions for the richest Americans as he says he would, he would need 6.5 percent economic growth for the next five years to keep his plan from adding to the deficit. To put that in perspective, the best five-year period of growth since World War II was from 1961 to 1966, when the economy grew at 5.8 percent per year.