by Ed Berry
The difference between Romney and Obama is so dramatic it should shut up forever those who claim there is no difference between Romney and Obama, or between Republicans and Democrats.
Mitt Romney’s 5-Point Plan for a Stronger Middle Class
- Building energy independence,
- Ensuring Americans have the skills to succeed,
- Opening markets that work for America,
- Cutting the deficit, and
- Championing small businesses.
Afghanistan & Pakistan
Mitt Romney will never make national-security decisions based upon electoral politics. Upon taking office, he will review our transition to the Afghan military by holding discussions with our commanders in the field. He will order a full interagency assessment of our military and assistance presence in Afghanistan to determine the level required to secure our gains and to train Afghan forces to the point where they can protect the sovereignty of Afghanistan from the tyranny of the Taliban. Withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan under a Romney administration will be based on conditions on the ground as assessed by our military commanders.
Ensure Buy-In from Afghan and Pakistani Governments
To defeat the insurgency in Afghanistan, the United States will need the cooperation of both the Afghan and Pakistani governments. It is in the interests of all three nations to see that Afghanistan and the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region are rid of the Taliban and other insurgent groups. Mitt Romney will work with both the Afghan government and Pakistan to ensure that those nations are fully contributing to success in Afghanistan. But we will only persuade Afghanistan and Pakistan to be resolute if they are convinced that the United States will itself be resolute. Only an America that appears fully committed to success will eliminate the incentives for them to hedge their bets by aligning with opposing forces.
The United States must be clear in what we require of both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghan President Hamid Karzai should understand that our commitment must be met with reciprocal efforts to crack down on corruption in his government, respect free and fair elections as required by the Afghan constitution, and coordinate with the United States on fighting the narcotics trade that fuels the insurgency. Pakistan should understand that any connection between insurgent forces and Pakistan’s security and intelligence forces must be severed. The United States enjoys significant leverage over both of these nations. We should not be shy about using it.
Bolster Economic Ties And The Rule Of Law
The United States must regard Africa not as a problem to be contained, but as an opportunity to be embraced by us and our partners on the continent. Recognizing that Africa’s road to stability and prosperity lies through a robust private sector economy, increased trade, and good governance, a Romney administration will encourage and assist African nations to adopt policies that create business-friendly environments and combat governmental corruption. Such policies will lift those nations and their people, boost economic ties to the United States, and provide greater certainty to the U.S. and international investors. Greater market access across the continent for U.S. businesses will bolster job creation in Africa as well as in the United States.
Lead On Issues Of Security And Human Rights
Mitt Romney will also provide the leadership required to help resolve Africa’s long-running conflicts, pressure the remaining despots who abuse their own people and weaken terrorist groups that threaten U.S. interests and those of our partners. He will pursue strong cooperative military and diplomatic relationships to ensure security interests on the continent and in the seafaring trade routes off its shores. These relationships will help strengthen the capacity of African nations and regional organizations to foster stability, engage in peacekeeping, and confront terror.
Mitt Romney will lead on the issue of Sudan’s ongoing atrocities. He recognizes that far too many Sudanese for far too long far have been the victims of war crimes and other atrocities committed by the government in Khartoum and its proxies. Continuing a history of violence and genocide, Khartoum has committed a range of atrocities in border regions since the independence of the Republic of South Sudan. It has incited and armed rebel groups with the apparent objective of undermining the new country. It has stolen hundreds of millions of dollars in oil, which is Sudan’s chief source of income. In both Darfur and in the border areas, Khartoum has too often been an impediment to the flow of humanitarian assistance. Governor Romney is committed to protecting innocents from war crimes and other atrocities, ensuring that humanitarian aid reaches those desperately in need, holding accountable those leaders who perpetrate atrocities, and achieving a sustainable peace for all who live in Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan.
China & East Asia
In 2010, after 30 years of dramatic growth, China surpassed Japan to become the world’s second-largest economy after ours. China’s size in land and in population, its rapid economic growth, and its sharply increasing military expenditures are dramatically changing the strategic map of the world. While the potential for conflict with an authoritarian China could rise as its power grows, the United States must pursue policies designed to encourage Beijing to embark on a course that makes conflict less likely. China must be discouraged from attempting to intimidate or dominate neighboring states. If the present Chinese regime is permitted to establish itself as the preponderant power in the Western Pacific it could close off large parts of the region to cooperative relations with the United States and the West and dim hope that economic opportunity and democratic freedom will continue to flourish across East Asia. Mitt Romney will implement a strategy that makes the path of regional hegemony for China far more costly than the alternative path of becoming a responsible partner in the international system.
Maintain Robust Military Capabilities in the Pacific
In the face of China’s accelerated military build-up, the United States and our allies must maintain appropriate military capabilities to discourage any aggressive or coercive behavior by China against its neighbors. Maintaining a strong military presence in the Pacific is not an invitation to conflict. Quite the contrary; it is a guarantor of a region where trade routes are open and East Asia’s community of nations remains secure and prosperous.
Toward that end, the United States should maintain and expand its naval presence in the Western Pacific. We should be assisting partners that require help to enhance their defensive capabilities. The Department of Defense should reconsider recent decisions not to sell top-of-the-line equipment to our closest Asian allies. We should be coordinating with Taiwan to determine its military needs and supplying them with adequate aircraft and other military platforms. We should be assisting Pacific nations to enhance maritime domain awareness, i.e., the ability to employ radar and other detection networks to monitor aggressive behavior in disputed waters. This would minimize the chance of surprise confrontations and prevent military miscalculations that can escalate into larger conflicts.
Deepen Cooperation Among Regional Partners
We need to continue to strengthen alliances and relations with strategic partners like India and build stronger ties to influential countries like Indonesia. Our aim should be to work with all these countries bilaterally but also to encourage them to work with one another as they have begun to do. Our objective is not to build an anti-China coalition. Rather it is to strengthen cooperation among countries with which we share a concern about China’s growing power and increasing assertiveness and with whom we also share an interest in maintaining freedom of navigation and ensuring that disputes over resources are resolved by peaceful means. It is yet another way of closing off China’s option of expanding its influence through coercion.
As detailed in his book, Believe in America, Mitt Romney will also pursue deeper economic cooperation among like-minded nations around the world that are genuinely committed to the principles of open markets through the formation of a “Reagan Economic Zone.” The benefits of this zone — which will codify principles of free trade — will be a powerful magnet that draws in an expanding circle of nations seeking greater access to other markets. Although China is unlikely to accede to the Reagan Economic Zone given its current approach to trade, offering Beijing the possibility of participation will give China significant incentives to end its abusive commercial practices. But with or without China as a member, the Reagan Economic Zone will establish a system of trade that could knit together the entire region, discouraging imbalanced bilateral trade relations between China and its neighbors, limiting China’s ability to coerce other countries, and ultimately encouraging China to participate in free trade on fair terms.
Defend Human Rights
Any serious U.S. policy toward China must confront the fact that China’s regime continues to deny its people basic political freedoms and human rights. A nation that represses its own people cannot be a trusted partner in an international system based on economic and political freedom. While it is obvious that any lasting democratic reform in China cannot be imposed from the outside, it is equally obvious that the Chinese people currently do not yet enjoy the requisite civil and political rights to turn internal dissent into effective reform. The United States has an important role to play in encouraging the evolution of China toward a more politically open and democratic order.
If the United States fails to support dissidents out of fear of offending the Chinese government, we will merely embolden China’s leaders. We certainly should not have relegated the future of freedom to second or third place, as Secretary of State Clinton did in 2009 when she publicly declared that the Obama administration would not let U.S. concerns about China’s human rights record interfere with cooperation “on the global economic crisis [and] the global climate change crisis.” A Romney administration will vigorously support and engage civil society groups within China that are promoting democratic reform, anti-corruption efforts, religious freedom, and women’s and minority rights. It will look to provide these groups and the Chinese people with greater access to information and communication through a stronger Internet freedom initiative. Mitt Romney will seek to engage China, but will always stand up for those fighting for the freedoms we enjoy.
Disarm North Korea
North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is a serious menace to world peace. A nuclear weapons capability in the hands of an unpredictable dictatorship with unknown leadership and an unclear chain of command poses a direct threat to U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula and elsewhere in East Asia, threatens our close allies South Korea and Japan, destabilizes the entire Pacific region, and could lead to the illicit transfer of a nuclear device to another rogue nation or a terrorist group. As president, Mitt Romney will commit to eliminating North Korea’s nuclear weapons and its nuclear-weapons infrastructure. A key mistake in U.S. policy toward North Korea has been to grant it a series of carrots in return for only illusory cooperation. Each step the world has taken toward North Korea has been met with further provocations and expansion of its nuclear program. Over the years, North Korea has found that its pursuit of a nuclear weapon reaps it material and diplomatic rewards, taking away any incentive for it to end its program.
Mitt Romney will reverse that dynamic. The United States will make it unequivocally clear to Pyongyang that continued the advancement of its nuclear program and any aggression will be punished instead of rewarded. Mitt will work with allies to institute harsher sanctions on North Korea, such as cracking down on financial institutions that service the North Korean regime and sanctioning companies that conduct commercial shipping in and out of North Korea. He will also step up enforcement of the Proliferation Security Initiative to constrain North Korean illicit exports by increasing the frequency of inspections of North Korean ships and discouraging foreign ports from permitting entry to North Korean ships. Such measures would significantly block the trade revenue that props up the North Korean regime and shut off routes by which the regime supplies its nuclear program.
China holds significant political and economic leverage over North Korea. It is not using that leverage, however, to achieve the goal of ending North Korea’s nuclear program. China fears a destabilized North Korea and the implications of its possible collapse for the region along its border. Mitt will work to persuade China to commit to North Korea’s disarmament. He will reassure China it will not be alone in dealing with the humanitarian and security issues that will arise should North Korea disintegrate. This will involve detailed planning for such an eventuality to ensure that we are ready to deal with the numerous issues that will arise if and when the North Korean regime collapses under the weight of its own economic and political contradictions. Mitt will also pursue robust military and counter-proliferation cooperation with our allies and others in the Pacific region. As the United States invigorates our relationships with South Korea, Japan, and others, and increases our collective military presence and cooperation, it should demonstrate to the Chinese that they should join the coordinated effort or be left behind as a regional counter-proliferation partner.
Courts & The Constitution
Mitt Romney’s view of the Constitution is straightforward: its words have meaning. The founding generation adopted a written constitution for a reason. They intended to limit the powers of government according to enduring principles. The job of the judge is to enforce the Constitution’s restraints on government and, where the Constitution does not speak, to leave the governance of the nation to elected representatives.
At times over the past hundred years, some justices of the Supreme Court did not carry out that duty. There were occasions when the Supreme Court declined to enforce the restrictions on power the Framers had so carefully enumerated. At other points, the Court created entirely new constitutional rights out of “penumbras” and “emanations” of the Constitution, abandoning serious analysis of the Constitution’s text, structure, and history.
Mitt believes in the rule of law, and he understands that the next president will make nominations that will shape the Supreme Court and the whole of the judiciary for decades to come. He will, therefore, appoint wise, experienced, and restrained judges who will take seriously their oath to discharge their duties impartially in accordance with the Constitution and laws — not their own personal policy preferences.
As president, Mitt will nominate judges in the mold of Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito. These justices hold dear what the great Chief Justice John Marshall called “the basis on which the whole American fabric has been erected”: a written Constitution, with real and determinate meaning. The judges that Mitt nominates will exhibit a genuine appreciation for the text, structure, and history of our Constitution and interpret the Constitution and the laws as they are written. And his nominees will possess a demonstrated record of adherence to these core principles.
As president, Mitt Romney will pursue genuine education reform that puts the interests of parents and students ahead of special interests and provides a chance for every child. He will take the unprecedented step of tying federal funds directly to dramatic reforms that expand parental choice, invest in innovation, and reward teachers for their results instead of their tenure. These policies will equip state leaders to achieve the change that can only come from commitment and action at the local level. He will also ensure that students have diverse and affordable options for higher education to give them the skills they need to succeed after graduation and that, when they graduate, they can find jobs that provide a rewarding return on their educational investment.
K-12: Promoting Choice And Innovation
Giving students trapped in bad schools a genuine alternative requires four things: (1) such alternatives must exist, (2) parents must receive clear information about the performance of their current school and of the alternatives, (3) students must be allowed to move to a new school, and (4) students must bring funding with them so that new schools can afford to serve them. Mitt’s reforms achieve each of these objectives:
- Allow Low Income And Special Needs Students To Choose Which School To Attend By Making Title I and IDEA Funds Portable.
- Provide Incentives For States To Increase Choices For Parents And Develop Quality Alternatives.
- Build On The Success Of Effective Charter And Digital Schools.
- Expand The DC Opportunity Scholarship Program To Serve As A Model For The Nation.
K-12: Ensuring High Standards And Responsibility For Results
Currently, there is little easily-available data for parents about their children’s schools. Mitt’s reforms will provide better information for parents through straightforward public report cards and will empower them to hold districts and states responsible for results. When combined with increased parental choice, this will give parents more control over their children’s education.
- Reform No Child Left Behind By Emphasizing Transparency And Responsibility For Results.
K-12: Recruiting And Rewarding Great Teachers
A school is only as strong as its teachers, but the most promising teachers often find it difficult to reach the classroom door or receive recognition for their efforts once inside. Mitt’s reforms smooth the path for talented individuals to join the profession and shape the next generation.
- Attract And Reward Great Teachers Through Increased Flexibility And Block Grants.
- Eliminate Unnecessary Certification Requirements That Discourage New Teachers.
Higher Ed: A New Vision Of Affordable And Applicable Learning
America’s traditional community and four-year colleges are the heart of our nation’s higher education system. However, a flood of federal dollars is driving up tuition and burdening too many young Americans with substantial debt and too few opportunities. Meanwhile, other models of advanced skills training are becoming ever more important to success in the American economy, and new educational institutions will be required to fill those roles. Mitt’s reforms spur the access, affordability, innovation, and transparency needed to address all of these challenges:
- Strengthen And Simplify The Financial Aid System.
- Welcome Private Sector Participation Instead Of Pushing It Away.
- Replace Burdensome Regulation With Innovation And Competition.
Mitt Romney will make America an energy superpower, rapidly and responsibly increasing our own production and partnering with our allies Canada and Mexico to achieve energy independence on this continent by 2020. This will require genuine support for increased energy production, a more rational approach to regulation, and a government that facilitates private-sector-led development of new energy technologies by focusing on funding research and removing barriers, rather than chasing fads and picking winners and losers.
- Empower states to control onshore energy development
- States will be empowered to control all forms of energy production on all lands within their borders, excluding only those that are specifically designated off-limits. Federal agencies will certify, but the states will lead.
- Open offshore areas for energy development
- Mitt will establish the most robust five-year offshore lease plan in history, that opens new areas for resource development – including off the coasts of Virginia and the Carolinas – and sets minimum production targets to increase accountability.
- Pursue a North American Energy Partnership
- Mitt will approve the Keystone XL pipeline, establish a new regional agreement to facilitate cross-border energy investment, promote and expand regulatory cooperation with Canada and Mexico and institute fast-track regulatory approval processes for cross-border pipelines and other infrastructure.
- Ensure accurate assessment of energy resources
- Instead of relying on decades-old surveys developed with decades-old technologies, Mitt’s plan facilitates new energy assessments to determine the true extent of our resource endowment.
- Restore transparency and fairness to permitting and regulation
- Mitt will pursue measured reforms of our environmental laws and regulations to strengthen environmental protection without destroying jobs or paralyzing industries. Mitt’s plan will also streamline the gauntlet of reviews, processes, administrative procedures, and lawsuits that mire so many new projects in red tape.
- Facilitate private-sector-led development of new energy technologies
- Mitt will promote innovation by focusing the federal government on the job it does best – research and development – and will eliminate any barriers that might prevent new energy technologies from succeeding on their own merits. Strengthening and streamlining regulations and permitting processes will benefit the development of both traditional and alternative energy sources, and encourage the use of a diverse range of fuels including natural gas in transportation.
MITT’S PLAN HAS WIDE-RANGING BENEFITS FOR AMERICA.
- More than three million new jobs, including over one million in manufacturing;
- An economic resurgence adding more than $500 billion to GDP;
- A stronger dollar and a reduced trade deficit;
- More than $1 trillion in revenue for federal, state, and local governments;
- Lower energy prices for job creators and middle-class families; and
- National security strengthened by freedom from dependence on foreign energy supplies.
As the Supreme Court recently reaffirmed, the Second Amendment protects one of the American people’s most basic and fundamental individual rights: “the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.” The Second Amendment is essential to the functioning of our free society. Mitt strongly supports the right of all law-abiding Americans to exercise their constitutionally protected right to own firearms and to use them for lawful purposes, including hunting, recreational shooting, self-defense, and the protection of family and property.
Like the majority of Americans, Mitt does not believe that the United States needs additional laws that restrict the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. He believes in the safe and responsible ownership and use of firearms and the right to lawfully manufacture and sell firearms and ammunition. He also recognizes the extraordinary number of jobs and other economic benefits that are produced by hunting, recreational shooting, and the firearms and ammunition industry, not the least of which is to fund wildlife and habitat conservation.
Mitt will enforce the laws already on the books and punish, to the fullest extent of the law, criminals who misuse firearms to commit crimes. But he does not support adding more laws and regulations that do nothing more than burden law-abiding citizens while being ignored by criminals. Mitt will also provide law enforcement with the proper and effective resources they need to deter, apprehend, and punish criminals.
As governor of Massachusetts, Mitt was proud to support legislation that expanded the rights of gun owners. He worked hard to advance the ability of law-abiding citizens to purchase and own firearms, while opposing liberal desires to create bureaucracy intended to burden gun owners and sportsmen. As governor, he also designated May 7th as “The Right to Bear Arms Day” in Massachusetts to honor law-abiding citizens and their right to “use firearms in defense of their families, persons, and property for all lawful purposes, including common defense.”
As president, Mitt will work to expand and enhance access and opportunities for Americans to hunt and shoot. He also will defend the right of individuals to protect their families, homes, and property, and he will fight the battle on all fronts to protect and promote the Second Amendment.
On his first day in office, Mitt Romney will issue an executive order that paves the way for the federal government to issue Obamacare waivers to all fifty states. He will then work with Congress to repeal the full legislation as quickly as possible.
In place of Obamacare, Mitt will pursue policies that give each state the power to craft a health care reform plan that is best for its own citizens. The federal government’s role will be to help markets work by creating a level playing field for competition.
Restore State Leadership and Flexibility
Mitt will begin by returning states to their proper place in charge of regulating local insurance markets and caring for the poor, uninsured, and chronically ill. States will have both the incentive and the flexibility to experiment, learn from one another, and craft the approaches best suited to their own citizens.
- Block grant Medicaid and other payments to states
- Limit federal standards and requirements on both private insurance and Medicaid coverage
- Ensure flexibility to help the uninsured, including public-private partnerships, exchanges, and subsidies
- Ensure flexibility to help the chronically ill, including high-risk pools, reinsurance, and risk adjustment
- Offer innovation grants to explore non-litigation alternatives to dispute resolution
Promote Free Markets and Fair Competition
Competition drives improvements in efficiency and effectiveness, offering consumers higher quality goods and services at lower cost. It can have the same effect in the health care system if given the chance to work.
- Cap non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits
- Empower individuals and small businesses to form purchasing pools
- Prevent discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage
- Facilitate IT interoperability
Empower Consumer Choice
For markets to work, consumers must have the information and the power to make decisions about their own care. Placing the patient at the center of the process will drive quality up and cost down while ensuring that services are designed to provide what Americans actually want.
- End tax discrimination against the individual purchase of insurance
- Allow consumers to purchase insurance across state lines
- Unshackle HSAs by allowing funds to be used for insurance premiums
- Promote “co-insurance” products
- Promote alternatives to “fee for service”
- Encourage “Consumer Reports”-type ratings of alternative insurance plans
Understanding that a healthy economy is the key to a healthy housing market, Mitt Romney has an economic plan that will result in more jobs and more take-home pay. Independent economists estimate that the plan will create 12 million jobs by the end of his first term, an essential element to ending the housing crisis.
A Plan To End The Housing Crisis
- Responsibly sell the 200,000 vacant foreclosed homes owned by the government
- Facilitate foreclosure alternatives for those who cannot afford to pay their mortgage
- Replace complex rules with smart regulation to hold banks accountable, restore a functioning marketplace and restart lending to creditworthy borrowers
- Protect taxpayers from additional risk in the future by reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
In towns across the nation, foreclosed homes sit empty, depressing the value of entire neighborhoods. The government owns about 200,000 of these homes or almost half of all of the foreclosed homes in the country. Mitt Romney will responsibly get the government out of the homeownership business and return these vacant homes to productive uses that will increase neighboring home values.
Foreclosures are a difficult, long, and expensive process for homeowners and lenders alike. Mitt Romney will facilitate creative alternatives to foreclosure for those who cannot afford to pay their mortgage. These alternatives will minimize the instability of communities hard hit by the housing crisis, preserve the credit of homeowners, and can help keep families in their homes.
Since the housing crisis, the government has produced more than 8,000 pages of new rules and regulations. The problem is that they are poorly designed, and have made it harder for people with good credit to get loans. Mitt Romney will put in place smarter regulations to restore a functioning marketplace that holds banks accountable and restart lending to creditworthy borrowers.
Any serious plan for ending the housing crisis must address its root cause. Two government-sponsored companies known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were at the center of the housing crisis. Mitt Romney will reform these government-sponsored companies to protect taxpayers from additional risk in the future by ensuring taxpayer dollars in the housing market are replaced with private dollars.
Mitt Romney sees two important objectives that America can pursue immediately to build on the extraordinary traditional strengths of its workforce. The first is to retrain American workers to ensure that they have the education and skills to match the jobs of today’s economy. The second is to attract the best and the brightest from around the world.
Mitt Romney will approach retraining policy with a conservative mindset that recognizes it as an area where the federal government is particularly ill-equipped to succeed. Retraining efforts must be founded upon a partnership that brings together the states and the private sector. The sprawling federal network of redundant bureaucracies should be dismantled and the funds used for better purposes. One particularly promising approach that Romney supports and believes states should be encouraged to pursue is a system of Personal Reemployment Accounts for unemployed individuals. These accounts would facilitate programs that place individuals directly into companies that provide on-the-job training—as governor of Massachusetts, Romney helped create just such a program.
- Eliminate redundancy in federal retraining programs by consolidating programs and funding streams, centering as much activity as possible in a single agency
- Give states authority to manage retraining programs by block granting federal funds
- Facilitate the creation of Personal Reemployment Accounts
- Encourage greater private sector involvement in retraining programs
Attracting the Best and the Brightest
To ensure that America continues to lead the world in innovation and economic dynamism, a Romney administration would press for an immigration policy designed to maximize America’s economic potential. The United States needs to attract and retain job creators from wherever they come. Foreign-born residents with advanced degrees start companies, create jobs, and drive innovation at an especially high rate. While lawful immigrants comprise about 8 percent of the population, immigrants start 16 percent of our top-performing, high-technology companies, hold the position of CEO or lead engineer in 25 percent of high-tech firms, and produce over 25 percent of all patent applications filed from the United States.
- Raise visa caps for highly skilled workers
- Grant permanent residency to eligible graduates with advanced degrees in math, science, and engineering
As president, Mitt Romney will implement a national immigration strategy that bolsters the U.S. economy, ensures our security, keeps nuclear families together, addresses the problem of illegal immigration in a civil and resolute manner, and carries on America’s tradition as a nation of legal immigrants.
Grow Legal Immigration To Grow Our Economy
Attract More Highly Skilled Immigrants:
To ensure that America continues to lead the world in innovation and economic dynamism, a Romney administration would press for an immigration policy designed to maximize America’s economic potential. Foreign-born residents with advanced degrees start companies, create jobs, and drive innovation at a high rate. While lawful immigrants comprise about 8 percent of the population, immigrants start 16 percent of our top-performing, high-technology companies, hold the position of CEO or lead engineer in 25 percent of high-tech firms, and produce over 25 percent of all patent applications filed from the United States.
- The United States is projected to face a shortage of 230,000 science and technology workers by 2018. At the same time, we have set the caps on high-skill visas so low that, for some countries, an entire year’s quota has been filled in an hour. Mitt Romney will ask Congress to raise the caps on visas for highly skilled immigrants.
- Many country caps—or limits on immigrants from specific countries—are so low, that America is losing some of the best and brightest to our international competitors. Mitt Romney will work with Congress to raise the country caps.
- Every foreign student who obtains an advanced degree in math, science, or engineering at a U.S. university should be granted permanent residency.
Make The Temporary Worker Visa System Functional:
- As president, Mitt Romney will make the system for bringing in temporary agricultural workers and other seasonal workers functional for both employers and immigrants. We should get rid of unnecessary requirements that delay issuance of a visa, and we should speed the processing of applications.
- Mitt Romney will work with Congress, states, and employers to properly set the cap on non-agricultural temporary worker visas. Many tourist-oriented businesses in the United States rely on these workers and would have to cut back or cease operations if there are not enough visas.
Secure Our Borders & Discourage Illegal Immigration
Mitt Romney will protect legal immigration and the 4.5 million who are waiting in line to enter the United States legally by taking a strong stand against illegal immigration. He believes that illegal immigration must end and has a proven track record of advancing that goal.
Secure The Borders
According to the non-partisan Government Accountability Office, Border Patrol lacks control of over half of our southwest border. And some estimates indicate that over 40% of illegal immigrants in America entered the country legally, but then overstayed their visas.
- Mitt Romney will complete a high-tech fence to enhance border security.
- Governor Romney will ensure that we have the officers on the ground we need to gain control of the border.
- A Romney Administration will work to develop an efficient, effective system of exit verification to ensure people do not overstay their visas.
Discourage Illegal Immigration
- Mitt Romney will develop an effective, mandatory employment verification system that will enable employers to be sure that those they hire are eligible to work. This will discourage illegal immigrants from coming to America to seek jobs.
- Governor Romney opposes all “magnets” that entice illegal immigrants to come to our country. As governor, he vetoed in-state tuition benefits for illegal immigrants and opposed driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.
- As president, Mitt Romney will foster a legal immigration system that works. This will offer an alternative to those who would otherwise enter illegally. For instance, reforming our current temporary worker program will offer employers who need such staff a legal option to find employees.
Enforce The Law
Mitt Romney believes in the rule of law and will fully enforce federal immigration law. As governor, he authorized state police to assist the federal government in immigration enforcement.
Cut Red Tape That Is Keeping Immediate Families Apart
As president, Mitt Romney will ensure that husbands, wives, and their minor children are brought together on a timely basis.
- Mitt Romney will speed the processing of applications by eliminating the red tape that is keeping immediate families apart.
- Mitt Romney will work with Congress to give legal permanent residents the same priority as citizens when applying to bring husbands, wives, and minor children to the United States.
- Mitt Romney will reallocate green cards to families of citizens and legal permanent residents.
Mitt Romney believes that young illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children should have the chance to become permanent residents, and eventually citizens, by serving honorably in the United States military.
Address The 11 Million Illegal Immigrants In America
In A Civil and Resolute Manner That Respects the Rule of Law
Mitt Romney opposes amnesty because he believes that it acts as a magnet encouraging illegal immigration. The last amnesty law passed in 1986 granted legal status to 2.7 million illegal immigrants. In the decades since, the illegal immigrant population has quadrupled. Mitt believes that an amnesty should not be permitted to happen again. Illegal immigrants who apply for legal status should not be given any advantage over those who are following the law and waiting their turn. Mitt absolutely opposes any policy that would allow illegal immigrants to “cut in line.”
Mitt Romney believes that it is unacceptable for Iran to possess a nuclear weapon. Should Iran achieve its nuclear objective, the entire geostrategic landscape of the Middle East would tilt in favor of the ayatollahs. A nuclear Iran will pose an existential threat to Israel, whose security is a vital U.S. national interest. As Iran’s ballistic missile capacity improves, it will endanger Europe and eventually the continental United States. It will provoke an arms race in which the Arab nations themselves forge ahead with nuclear programs of their own. The result will be a nightmarish cascade of nuclear tensions in the world’s most volatile region. Iran’s sponsorship of international terrorism would take on a new and terrifying dimension.
As president, Mitt Romney’s strategy will be to end Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon, eliminate the threat of Iranian nuclear terrorism against the United States and our allies, and prevent nuclear proliferation across the Middle East.
A Credible Military Option
U.S. policy toward Iran must begin with an understanding on Iran’s part that a military option to deal with their nuclear program remains on the table. This message should not only be delivered through words but through actions. The United States should restore the regular presence of aircraft carrier task forces in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf region simultaneously. The United States should repair relations with Israel, increase military coordination and assistance, and enhance intelligence sharing to ensure that our allied capabilities are robust and ready to deal with Iran. The United States should also increase military coordination with our Arab allies in the region and conduct more naval exercises as a demonstration of strength and resolve. Only if Iran understands that the United States is utterly determined when we say that their nuclear-weapons program is unacceptable is there a possibility that they will give up their nuclear aspirations peacefully.
Implement a Fifth Round of Tougher Sanctions
Sanctions are not ends in themselves. They are intended to persuade Iran to change course and abandon its nuclear program. President Obama deserves credit for pushing for a fourth round of international sanctions on Iran early in his term, just as before him President Bush deserved credit for the three previous rounds. But time has shown that existing sanctions have not led the ayatollahs to abandon their nuclear aspirations. We, therefore, need to ratchet up our pressure on Iran with a fifth round of sanctions targeted at the financial resources that underpin the Iranian regime and its Revolutionary Guard Corps, focusing on restrictions on the Central Bank of Iran, as well as other financial institutions. We should place sanctions on all business activities of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which include much of Iran’s petroleum industry. To stanch the flow of the petroleum commerce that supports the Iranian regime, we should pursue sanctions on firms that transport such products to and from Iran.
Ideally, these sanctions would be implemented through the U.N. Security Council, but persuading Russia and China to go along might prove impossible. In the absence of a U.N. imprimatur, the United States should be ready to take action in conjunction with as many willing governments as possible. And if necessary, we should be prepared to act on our own. To that end, Mitt Romney will step up enforcement of existing U.S. laws that bar commerce with Iran, such as the exportation of refined petroleum products to Iran.
Mitt will also push for greater diplomatic isolation of Iran. The United States should make it plain that it is a disgrace to provide Iran’s Holocaust-denying president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the trappings and respect offered to responsible heads of state. He should not be invited to foreign capitals or feted by foreign leaders. Quite the opposite. Given his calls for Israel to be wiped off the map, Ahmadinejad should be indicted for incitement to genocide under Article III of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
Support the Iranian Opposition
In 2009, President Obama refrained from supporting the nascent Green Movement as it was facing a violent crackdown by the Iranian regime. As protestors demonstrating against a stolen election were shot down in the streets, President Obama stated he did not want to “meddle” in Iranian affairs, fearing that his unconditional outreach to the Iranian regime would be endangered if he did so. This was a disgraceful abdication of American moral authority.
Mitt Romney would make plain that the United States supports the emergence of a democratic alternative to the current repressive and reckless regime in Tehran. He would work to improve the flow of information to the Iranian population about its own government’s repressive activities. He would recognize the strong national interest we have in the success of the Arab Spring in Syria and the removal of the Bashar al-Assad regime, Iran’s closest ally. And Mitt will not stand silent while the Iranian regime ruthlessly terrorizes its own people.
Commit to the On-Time Completion of a Fully Capable Missile Defense System
The United States and our European and Middle Eastern allies have a vital interest in establishing a fully operational and effective missile defense system in Eastern Europe to create a protective umbrella against Iranian nuclear weapons. Under pressure from Russia, President Obama early in his term scrapped President Bush’s plan to deploy ground-based interceptors in Poland and a radar system in the Czech Republic. He instead favored a plan that featured a longer development timeline based upon technologies that have not yet been developed. He has since partially reversed course to reassure our allies who were alarmed by his abrupt about-face and subsequently clarified that his new program will also feature interceptors in Poland along with interceptors in Romania and a radar system in Turkey, all to be built in stages through 2020. As president, Mitt Romney is willing to commit to deploying missile defenses in Europe along that timeline, but he will do so with the following two qualifications.
First, Mitt would reserve the option of reverting to President Bush’s original plan of deploying proven interceptor technology in Poland if it becomes clear that Iran is making faster progress on developing long-range missiles than the Obama plan assumes or if the new technologies on which the plan relies fail to materialize in a timely fashion. If Iran is going to deploy intercontinental missiles sooner than 2020, the United States should retain the option of defending against them.
Second, Mitt would make clear that while he is willing to cooperate with Russia on missile defense in ways that will enhance the overall effectiveness of the missile-defense system, he will not compromise the capability of the system or yield operational control of it. Russia must abandon any backdoor scheme to constrain our missile defenses. The United States should never give Russia a veto over our security and that of our allies.
To ensure Israel’s security, Mitt Romney will work closely with Israel to maintain its strategic military edge. The United States will work intensively with Turkey and Egypt to shore up the now fraying relationships with Israel that have underpinned peace in the Middle East for decades. The United States must forcefully resist the emergence of anti-Israel policies in Turkey and Egypt, and work to make clear that their interests are not served by isolating Israel.
With regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mitt’s policy will differ sharply from President Obama’s. As president, Mitt will reject any measure that would frustrate direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. He will make clear to the Palestinians that the unilateral attempt to decide issues that are designated for final negotiations by the Oslo Accords is unacceptable. The United States will reduce assistance to the Palestinians if they continue to pursue United Nations recognition or form a unity government that includes Hamas, a terrorist group dedicated to Israel’s destruction. The United States needs a president who will not be a fair-weather friend of Israel. The United States must work as a country to resist the worldwide campaign to delegitimize Israel. We must fight against that campaign in every forum and label it the anti-Semitic poison that it is. Israel’s existence as a Jewish state is not up for debate.
Keeping Faith With America’s Veterans
One of the most sacred responsibilities of Commander-in-Chief is to honor America’s obligations to our veterans. President Obama has had nearly four years to fix endemic problems with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Unfortunately, mismanagement on the part of the Obama Administration has led to serious shortcomings in veterans’ care. In addition to the President’s massive defense cuts –which could force 200,000 troops out of uniform and onto an overburdened VA—the backlog of disability claims has doubled, veteran unemployment is at unacceptable levels, there are critical problems with GI Bill payouts, and the wait time to see a mental health care provider can be up to two months long. In his last budget, the President asked military members and veterans to take $12 billion more in out-of-pocket TRICARE payments while he exploded spending elsewhere in the budget.
Mitt Romney believes we must do better. To ensure the VA lives up to its noble motto, “to care for him who shall have borne the battle,” Mitt will institute reforms to the VA aimed at unclogging bureaucratic inefficiencies and mismanagement. He will hold VA leaders accountable for poor performance. His economic reforms could create up to 12 million new jobs, ensuring veterans have the dignity of a job. And he will reverse President Obama’s massive defense cuts, that could cripple our Armed Forces, overwhelm the VA, and have a dire impact on our economy and our national security.
To date, Governor Romney has received the endorsement of nearly 30 American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars National Commanders, an overwhelming show of support from the highest ranks of America’s veterans community.
Key Elements of Mitt’s Plan
- Every veteran is the greatest of his generation. Institute positive reforms that honor our end of the bargain with America’s returning warriors.
- Unclog the Department of Veterans Affairs. Focus on providing top quality care, rather than growing an inefficient bureaucracy. Hold administrators accountable for poor performance and direct resources to programs that directly benefit veterans.
- Expand the reach of the VA health system to better serve the 41 percent of veterans that live in rural areas. Speed the availability of Internet-based consultations, tele-homecare, and telemonitoring.
- Institute a reliable electronic health record, from boot camp to retirement, thus reducing the disability claim backlog.
- Grant all veterans using the GI Bill in-state tuition, regardless of their state of residency.
- Ensure that veterans receive credit for their military training when seeking trade credentials at the state and national levels, allowing veterans to bypass expensive and time-consuming state credentialing requirements for training they’ve already received.
- Stop and reverse President Obama’s massive defense cuts, which could force up to 200,000 troops out of uniform and onto the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Allow distressed veterans seeking mental health care to access the military’s TRICARE network of providers at the VA’s expense. This would double the number of mental health care providers overnight and reduce wait times.
Frequently Asked Questions About Mitt’s Plan
Does Governor Romney want to privatize the Department of Veterans Affairs?
Absolutely not. President Obama proposed privatization of the VA in 2009; Mitt Romney strongly rejects this approach. He will instead focus his efforts on making the VA work better for veterans, cleaning up an entrenched bureaucracy, rewarding positive results and holding failed leaders accountable. Our returning warriors deserve no less than top quality care, provided in a timely and efficient manner. It’s time for real leadership that is committed to tackling the VA’s endemic problems.
Is it true the Paul Ryan budget cut Veterans Benefits?
The Washington Post falsely reported that the Ryan budget cut Veterans benefits, and it immediately issued a correction. Not only did Paul’s plan meet the White House’s request for veterans spending, it actually increased it over a ten year period. Both Mitt and Paul believe that it is unconscionable that President Obama would propose cutting the military while growing the rest of the federal government. In a Romney-Ryan Administration, our troops and our veterans will come first.
Does “Sequestration” impact Veterans?
Unfortunately, the devastating, across-the-board cuts in sequestration will impact what’s known as “administrative” accounts in the Department of Veterans Affairs, though veterans are directly protected. Those cuts could harm veterans’ ability to efficiently interact with the VA. President Obama’s massive defense cuts are already forcing 100,000 troops out of service and onto an overloaded VA. Sequestration could double that number, forcing another 100,000 returning warriors from the front lines to the unemployment lines. Both Mitt and Paul strongly oppose the President’s reckless cuts to our military budget and will reverse those cuts as soon as they take office.
Mitt Romney, with his extensive experience in both business and government, has a keen understanding of labor relations. He recognizes, as he himself has written, that “[a]t their best, labor unions have always fought for the rights of workers, and generations of Americans have been better off for it.” But he also recognizes that the interests of union management can diverge from those of the very workers they purport to serve.
As president, Mitt Romney’s first step in improving labor policy will be to ensure that our labor laws create a stable and level playing field on which businesses can operate. As they hire, businesses should not have to worry that a politicized federal agency will rewrite the rules of the employment game without warning and without regard for the law.
- Appoint to the NLRB experienced individuals with respect for the rule of law
- Amend NLRA to explicitly protect the right of business owners to allocate their capital as they see fit
- Reverse executive orders issued by President Obama that tilt the playing field toward organized labor
Mitt Romney believes in the right of workers to join a union or to not join a union. To exercise that right freely, workers must have access to all the relevant facts they need to make an informed decision. This means hearing from both the union about the potential benefits and from management about potential costs. This also means being able to act on that decision in the privacy of the ballot booth.
- Amend NLRA to guarantee the secret ballot in every union certification election
- Amend NLRA to guarantee that all pre-election campaigns last at least one month
- Support states in pursuing Right-to-Work laws
As matters currently stand, unions can take money directly from the paychecks of American workers and spend it on politicking—each election cycle, unions spend hundreds of millions of dollars. In non-Right-to-Work states, employees have little choice but to watch their money go toward such expenditures, even if they do not support the union and its political agenda. The result is the creation of an enormously powerful interest group whose influence is disproportionate to its actual support and whose priorities are fundamentally misaligned with those of businesses and workers—and thus with the needs of the economy.
- Prohibit the use for political purposes of funds automatically deducted from worker paychecks
Mitt Romney will chart a different course. Under a Romney administration, the United States will pursue an active role in Latin America by supporting democratic allies and market-based economic relationships, containing destabilizing internal forces such as criminal gangs and terrorists, and opposing destabilizing outside influences such as Iran.
In his first 100 days in office, Mitt will launch a vigorous public diplomacy and trade promotion effort in the region — the Campaign for Economic Opportunity in Latin America (CEOLA) — to extol the virtues of democracy and free trade and build on the benefits conferred by the free trade agreements reached with Panama and Colombia, as well as those already in force with Chile, Mexico, Peru, and the members of the Central American Free Trade Agreement. Through old and new media and through numerous public events conducted in conjunction with our regional partners, CEOLA will draw a stark contrast between free enterprise and the ills of the authoritarian socialist model offered by Cuba and Venezuela. The campaign will also seek to involve both the U.S. and Latin American private sectors in efforts to expand trade throughout the region with initiatives that not only help American companies do business in Latin America but also help Latin American companies invest and create jobs in the American market. The goal of CEOLA will be to set the stage for eventual membership in the Reagan Economic Zone for nations throughout Latin America and the creation of strong and mutually beneficial economic ties between the region and the United States.
Mitt will build on separate existing anti-drug and counterterrorism initiatives to form a unified Hemispheric Joint Task Force on Crime and Terrorism. The aim of this group will be to coordinate intelligence and enforcement among all regional allies. Coordinated strategies are required to combat regional terrorist groups and criminal networks that operate across borders. And a regional effort is required as well to sever all financial, logistical, and material connections between regional groups and foreign terrorist entities like Hezbollah that are operating in the region.
Mexico and the United States must take immediate action on the problem of violent drug cartels operating across our shared border, which has already inflicted great costs to both our countries in human life, drug addiction and social decay. The United States and Mexico currently cooperate through the Merida Initiative, a program run by the U.S. Department of State to improve Mexico’s law enforcement capabilities. However, in light of the severity of the cartel problem and the sheer firepower and sophistication of the criminal networks we are facing, the United States and Mexico should explore the need for enhanced military-to-military training cooperation and intelligence sharing similar to practices that were successful in combating cartels and narco-terrorist networks in Colombia. Mitt will use the full powers of the presidency to complete an impermeable border fence protecting our southern frontier from infiltration by illegal migrants, trans-national criminal networks, and terrorists.
Key Elements of Mitt’s Plan
- Nothing changes for current seniors or those nearing retirement
- Medicare is reformed as a premium support system, meaning that existing spending is repackaged as a fixed-amount benefit to each senior that he or she can use to purchase an insurance plan
- All insurance plans must offer coverage at least comparable to what Medicare provides today
- If seniors choose more expensive plans, they will have to pay the difference between the support amount and the premium price; if they choose less expensive plans, they can use any leftover support to pay other medical expenses ၬike co-pays and deductibles
- “Traditional” fee-for-service Medicare will be offered by the government as an insurance plan, meaning that seniors can purchase that form of coverage if they prefer it; however, if it costs the government more to provide that service than it costs private plans to offer their versions, then the premiums charged by the government will have to be higher and seniors will have to pay the difference to enroll in the traditional Medicare option
- Lower income seniors will receive more generous support to ensure that they can afford coverage; wealthier seniors will receive less support
- Competition among plans to provide high-quality service while charging low premiums will hold costs down while also improving the quality of coverage enjoyed by seniors
Frequently Asked Questions About Mitt’s Plan
What are the immediate effects of this plan?
This plan has no effect on current seniors or those nearing retirement. It will go into effect for younger Americans when they reach retirement in the future.
How is this different from the Ryan Plan?
Shortly after Mitt presented the proposal described here, Congressman Paul Ryan and Senator Ron Wyden introduced a bipartisan proposal that almost precisely mirrors Mitt’s ideas. Unsurprisingly, the Obama administration immediately rejected the proposal. Mitt has applauded the Ryan-Wyden effort and looks forward to working as president with leaders from both sides of the aisle to implement meaningful reforms that will preserve Medicare for future generations.
How high will the premium support be? How quickly will it grow?
Mitt continues to work on refining the details of his plan, and he is exploring different options for ensuring that future seniors receive the premium support they need while also ensuring that competitive pressures encourage providers to improve quality and control cost. His goal is for Medicare to offer every senior affordable options that provide coverage and service at least as good as what today’s seniors receive. Lower income seniors in the future will receive the most generous benefits to ensure that they are able to get care every bit as good as that provided in the current Medicare program.
How will the plan impact total Medicare spending?
The total impact on spending will depend on a number of factors, including the rate of premium support increase and the effect of competitive pressure on providers. By replacing the inefficiency of the current system with a competitive, market-oriented system in which every provider – including the government – wants to find the most efficient way to provide high-quality care, the plan puts the future of Medicare on a sound footing to meet the needs of future generations.
How will traditional Medicare remain an option?
Traditional Medicare will compete against private plans. It will be operated by the government and funded by premiums, co-insurance, and deductibles that are set at the level necessary to cover its costs. The attractiveness of this option to future seniors will depend on how its efficiency and quality compares to that offered by other providers in the marketplace. Future seniors will benefit from the innovation and competition among options.
How will seniors be affected by the costs of different options?
Future seniors will be able to enjoy the savings from selecting less expensive plans or choose to pay more for costlier options. When the insurance premium costs less than the support provided, the balance will be available in an HSA-like account to pay for other out-of-pocket health expenses.
The Greater Middle East is experiencing the most dramatic change since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The protests that have broken out across the Arab world bespeak a generational yearning for a better life and for human dignity and present an opportunity for profoundly positive change. History may show that the individual who moved the Arab world from autocracy to the path of freedom was not a head of state, but a humble Tunisian street vendor.
But the ongoing revolution is doubled edged. The region is riven by tensions, and Iran and Islamist extremists are seeking to influence events and expand their control. The future of democratic institutions in the region — and the security of the United States and its allies — hangs in the balance. Mitt Romney believes that the United States cannot be neutral about the outcome.
To protect our enduring national interests and to promote our ideals, a Romney administration will pursue a strategy of supporting groups and governments across the Middle East to advance the values of representative government, economic opportunity, and human rights, and opposing any extension of Iranian or jihadist influence. The Romney administration will strive to ensure that the Arab Spring is not followed by an Arab Winter.
Immediate Post-Revolutionary States: Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia
Nations in the Middle East in transition to new governmental structures face serious pitfalls on the road to more representative forms of government. Already, destabilizing jihadist forces and Iranian-backed elements, often better funded and organized than their democratic counterparts, are seeking to exploit the upheaval to make political inroads. A Romney administration will support those individuals and groups that are seeking to instill lasting democratic values and build sturdy democratic institutions that will sustain open societies in countries that have been closed for too long. Mitt will make available technical assistance to governments and transitional bodies to promote democracy, good governance, and sound financial management. He will convene a summit that brings together world leaders, donor organizations, and young leaders of groups that espouse the principles of representative government, religious pluralism, economic opportunity, women’s and minority rights, and freedom of expression and conscience in the Arab world. And in his first 100 days, Mitt will engage Congress and relevant executive branch agencies and begin organizing all diplomatic and assistance efforts in the greater Middle East under one regional director. Unlike recent “special envoys” or regional “czars,” this official will possess unified budgetary and directive authority, and therefore real ability to create results. One official with responsibility and accountability will be able to set regional priorities, craft a unified regional strategic plan, and properly direct our soft power toward ensuring the Arab Spring realizes its promise.
The United States must recognize Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad for what he is: an unscrupulous dictator, a killer, and a proxy for Iran. For far too long, the Obama administration held out hope that it could negotiate with Assad to stop his violent crackdown on pro-democracy protestors. It even labeled him a “reformer” while he was turning heavy weapons on his own people. Mitt Romney holds no illusions about Assad’s character or about Iran’s interest in maintaining a client regime in Damascus.
Mitt Romney believes the United States should pursue a strategy of isolating and pressuring the Assad regime to increase the likelihood of a peaceful transition to a legitimate government. We should redouble our push for the U.N. Security Council to live up to its responsibilities and impose sanctions that cut off funding sources that serve to maintain the regime’s grip on power. We should work with Saudi Arabia and Turkey to call on Syria’s military to protect civilians rather than attack them. This effort would aim to drive a wedge between Assad and his military, minimize violence, and increase the possibility that the ruling minority Alawites will be able to reconcile with the majority Sunni population in a post-Assad Syria. And we should make clear that the United States and our allies will support the Syrian opposition when the time comes for them to forge a post-Assad government.
U.S. military and diplomatic personnel have made stunning gains in Iraq, pulling the war effort there back from the precipice of defeat. The 2007 “surge” of troops successfully provided security to the population and granted space and time for the Iraqis, our diplomatic corps, and our coalition partners to establish institutions of governance. This placed the goal of a democratic Iraq allied with the United States within reach. The Obama administration, however, has made decisions that threaten to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. President Obama’s astonishing failure to secure an orderly transition in Iraq and his decision to pull out all U.S. troops by the end of 2011 has unnecessarily put at risk the victories that were won through the blood and sacrifice of thousands of American men and women. The unavoidable question is whether this decision is the result of a naked political calculation or simply sheer ineptitude in negotiations with the Iraqi government. Reports indicate that our commanders in the field recommended a 14,000 to 18,000-strong residual force as the minimum necessary to carry out our transition mission. In light of these developments, it is impossible to forecast what conditions in Iraq will confront the next American president in January 2013. Mitt Romney will enter office seeking to use the broad array of our foreign-policy tools — diplomatic, economic, and military — to establish a lasting relationship with Iraq and guarantee that Baghdad remains a solid partner in a volatile and strategically vital region.
As Commander-in-Chief, Mitt Romney will keep faith with the men and women who defend us just as he will ensure that our military capabilities are matched to the interests we need to protect. He will put our Navy on the path to increase its shipbuilding rate from nine per year to approximately fifteen per year. He will also modernize and replace the aging inventories of the Air Force, Army, and Marines, and selectively strengthen our force structure. And he will fully commit to a robust, multi-layered national ballistic-missile defense system to deter and defend against nuclear attacks on our homeland and our allies.
This will not be a cost-free process. We cannot rebuild our military strength without paying for it. Mitt will begin by reversing Obama-era defense cuts and return to the budget baseline established by Secretary Robert Gates in 2010, with the goal of setting core defense spending — meaning funds devoted to the fundamental military components of personnel, operations and maintenance, procurement, and research and development — at a floor of 4 percent of GDP.
Mitt will also find efficiencies throughout the Department of Defense budget that can be reinvested into the force. The Department’s bureaucracy is bloated to the point of dysfunction and is ripe for being pared. In the years since 2000, the Pentagon’s civilian staff grew by 20 percent while our active duty fighting force grew by only 3.4 percent. That imbalance needs to be rectified. During World War II the United States built 1,000 ships per year with 1,000 people employed in the Bureau of Ships, as the purchasing department of the Department of the Navy was then called. By the 1980s, we were building seventeen ships per year, with 4,000 people in purchasing. Today, when we are building only nine ships a year, the Pentagon manages the shipbuilding process with some 25,000 people. That kind of excess must be brought to an end along with the byzantine rules and wasteful practices that riddle the military procurement process.
With proper management, we can do far better in controlling costs and getting more for our taxpayer dollars. The measures Mitt Romney will take include establishing clear lines of authority and accountability for each weapons system so they remain on time and on budget. He will institute shorter design and delivery cycles for weapons systems to eliminate the current practice of relying on yet-to-be-developed technologies, which creates delays and cost overruns. This will foster more realistic planning, get equipment into the field at a faster pace, and save the cost of having to keep older weapons systems in circulation. He will institute greater competition at all levels of the procurement process. And he will work with Congress to pass budgets on time — something the Obama administration has habitually failed to do — to allow the Department of Defense and defense contractors to properly plan multi-year projects without delay and disruption. These and other reforms will ensure a functioning procurement system that redirects savings into the defense of our nation.
The burden of defense spending is substantial but in any honest accounting, the benefits need to be tallied along with the costs. Those benefits include, first and foremost, prevention of war. By patrolling the commons, our forces have also contributed to the maintenance of a worldwide system of free trade that has brought us enormous financial dividends, far more than we have spent on maintaining a military. And our strength has protected the development of democracy around the world, enhancing stability and providing new allies and partners in the cause of peace and freedom. The cost of preparedness may sometimes be high, but the cost of unpreparedness is almost always higher — not just in tax dollars but in human life and in the survival of liberty and representative government.
Mitt Romney will treat regulatory costs like other costs: he will establish firm limits for them. A Romney administration will act swiftly to tear down the vast edifice of regulations the Obama administration has imposed on the economy. It will also seek to make structural changes to the federal bureaucracy that ensure economic growth remains front and center when regulatory decisions are made.
Eliminate Undue Economic Burdens
One of the greatest problems with the federal bureaucracy is that each incoming presidential administration leaves in place much of what its predecessor constructed. The result is layer upon layer of often unnecessary or inconsistent regulation. President Obama has compounded this problem with unprecedented federal power grabs over wide swaths of the economy. Obama-era laws and regulations must be rolled back, and pre-existing ones must be carefully scrutinized.
- Repeal Obamacare
- Repeal Dodd-Frank and replace with a streamlined, modern regulatory framework
- Amend Sarbanes-Oxley to relieve mid-size companies from onerous requirements
- Initiate review and elimination of all Obama-era regulations that unduly burden the economy
Reform Environmental Regulation
As president, Mitt Romney will eliminate the regulations promulgated in pursuit of the Obama administration’s costly and ineffective anti-carbon agenda. Romney will also press Congress to reform our environmental laws to ensure that they allow for a proper assessment of their costs.
- Ensure that environmental laws properly account for cost in regulatory process
- Provide multi-year lead times before companies must come into compliance with onerous new environmental regulations
Adopt Structural Reforms
An agency may be able to conceive of ten different regulations, each imposing costs of $10 billion while producing at least as much in social benefit. Moving forward might sound like a great idea to the typical regulator. But imposing those regulations, no matter what the social benefits, has a similar effect to raising taxes by $100 billion. Regulatory costs need to be treated like the very real costs they are.
- Impose a regulatory cap of zero dollars on all federal agencies
- Require congressional approval of all new “major” regulations
- Reform legal liability system to prevent spurious litigation
Upon taking office, Mitt Romney will reset the reset. He will implement a strategy that will seek to discourage aggressive or expansionist behavior on the part of Russia and encourage democratic political and economic reform.
Review New START
Mitt Romney will review the implementation of the New START treaty and other decisions by the Obama administration regarding America’s nuclear posture and arms-control policies to determine whether they serve the best interests and national security of the United States.
Decrease Europe’s Energy Reliance on Russia
Mitt Romney will pursue policies that work to decrease the reliance of European nations on Russian sources of energy. He will explore increasing technical assistance to the Eastern European nations currently developing the Turkey-to-Austria Nabucco natural gas pipeline, which will supply Europe with a cheaper source of energy and options apart from Russian oil and gas. A Romney administration will also work with the private sector to spur access to untapped shale energy resources in Western Europe.
Build Stronger Relationships with Central Asia
A Romney administration will build stronger relationships with the states of Central Asia by enhancing diplomatic ties, increasing military training and assistance, and negotiating trade pacts and educational exchanges.
Support Civil Society
A Russian government that respects the civil and political rights of its people and that is truly representative of their wishes will be a more productive participant in an international system based on liberal trade and political values. Deepening authoritarianism and centralized control of the economy serves only to impede Russia’s economic development and turn the country into a more menacing presence on the world stage. A Romney administration will be forthright in confronting the Russian government over its authoritarian practices. Mitt Romney will support measures to increase the flow of information into Russia that highlights the virtues of free elections, free speech, economic opportunity, and a government free of corruption. A useful additional step would be to bring more leaders of Russian civil society organizations to the United States on exchanges programs, which would raise their profile and empower them with ideas that can be shared with their fellow Russians upon their return.
President Obama has had three years in office, during which time he has attacked every serious proposal to preserve and strengthen America’s entitlement programs. Mitt Romney has laid out the approach he would take to modernizing America’s entitlement programs, guaranteeing their continued vitality for future generations. Mitt’s proposals will not raise taxes and will not affect today’s seniors or those nearing retirement. He proposes that Social Security should be adjusted in a couple of commonsense ways that will put it on the path of solvency and ensure that it is preserved for future generations.
- First, for future generations of seniors, Mitt believes that the retirement age should be slowly increased to account for increases in longevity.
- Second, for future generations of seniors, Mitt believes that benefits should continue to grow but that the growth rate should be lower for those with higher incomes.
With just those two simple steps, and no change in benefits for those at or near retirement, America can guarantee the preservation of the Social Security system for the foreseeable future.
Mitt is committed to saving Social Security. He will ensure that America honors all of its commitments to today’s seniors and strengthens the program so that it is financially secure for future generations.
After three years of President Obama, many now question whether we can ever return to fiscal sanity, let alone fiscal strength. A point of no return may well be approaching — a decade of huge deficits could drive our principal payments and interest rates beyond our reach while starving the economy of the capital it needs to grow.
Fortunately, the American economy’s tremendous capacity for growth gives the country one more chance to correct course. Mitt Romney has spent his career executing turnarounds in the private sector, the Olympics, and state government. He will bring to Washington the turnaround philosophy it so badly needs.
Set Honest Goals: Cap Spending At 20 Percent Of GDP
Any turnaround must begin with clear and realistic goals. Optimistic projections cannot wish a problem away, they can only make it worse. As president, Mitt’s goal will be to bring federal spending below 20 percent of GDP by the end of his first term:
- Reduced from 24.3 percent last year; in line with the historical trend between 18 and 20 percent
- Close to the tax revenue generated by the economy when healthy
- Requires spending cuts of approximately $500 billion per year in 2016 assuming robust economic recovery with 4% annual growth, and reversal of irresponsible Obama-era defense cuts
Take Immediate Action: Return Non-Security Discretionary Spending To Below 2008 Levels
Any turnaround must also stop the bleeding and reverse the most recent and dramatic damage:
- Send Congress a bill on Day One that cuts non-security discretionary spending by 5 percent across the board
- Pass the House Republican Budget proposal, rolling back President Obama’s government expansion by capping non-security discretionary spending below 2008 levels
Follow A Clear Roadmap: Build A Simpler, Smaller, Smarter Government
Most importantly, any turnaround must have a thoughtful, structured approach to achieving its goals. Mitt will attack the bloated budget from three angles:
- The Federal Government Should Stop Doing Things The American People Can’t Afford, For Instance:
- Repeal Obamacare — Savings: $95 Billion. President Obama’s costly takeover of the health care system imposes an enormous and unaffordable obligation on the federal government while intervening in a matter that should be left to the states. Mitt will begin his efforts to repeal this legislation on Day One.
- Privatize Amtrak — Savings: $1.6 Billion. Despite requirement that Amtrak operate on a for-profit basis, it continues to receive about $1.6 billion in taxpayer funds each year. Forty-one of Amtrak’s 44 routes lost money in 2008 with losses ranging from $5 to $462 per passenger.
- Reduce Subsidies For The National Endowments For The Arts And Humanities, The Corporation For Public Broadcasting, And The Legal Services Corporation — Savings: $600 Million. NEA, NEH, and CPB provide grants to supplement other sources of funding. LSC funds services mostly duplicative of those already offered by states, localities, bar associations and private organizations.
- Eliminate Title X Family Planning Funding — Savings: $300 Million. Title X subsidizes family planning programs that benefit abortion groups like Planned Parenthood.
- Reduce Foreign Aid — Savings: $100 Million. Stop borrowing money from countries that oppose America’s interests in order to give it back to them in the form of foreign aid.
If pursued with focus and discipline, Mitt’s approach provides a roadmap to rescue the federal government from its present precipice. But that respite will be short-lived without a plan for the looming long-term threat posed by the unsustainable nature of existing entitlement obligations. Learn more about Mitt’s proposals for entitlement reform: Medicare and Social Security.
- Empower States To Innovate — Savings: >$100 billion
- Block grants have huge potential to generate both superior results and cost savings by establishing local control and promoting innovation in areas such as Medicaid and Worker Retraining. Medicaid spending should be capped and increased each year by CPI + 1%. Department of Labor retraining spending should be capped and will increase in future years. These funds should then be given to the states to spend on their own residents. States will be free from Washington micromanagement, allowing them to develop innovative approaches that improve quality and reduce cost.
- Improve Efficiency And Effectiveness. Where the federal government should act, it must do a better job. For instance:
- Reduce Waste And Fraud — Savings: $60 Billion. The federal government made $125 billion in improper payments last year. Cutting that amount in half through stricter enforcement and harsher penalties yields returns many times over on the investment.
- Align Federal Employee Compensation With The Private Sector — Savings: $47 Billion. Federal compensation exceeds private sector levels by as much as 30 to 40 percent when benefits are taken into account. This must be corrected.
- Repeal The Davis-Bacon Act — Savings: $11 Billion. Davis-Bacon forces the government to pay above-market wages, insulating labor unions from competition and driving up project costs by approximately 10 percent.
- Reduce The Federal Workforce By 10 Percent Via Attrition — Savings: $4 Billion. Despite widespread layoffs in the private sector, President Obama has continued to grow the federal payrolls. The federal workforce can be reduced by 10 percent through a “1-for-2” system of attrition, thereby reducing the number of federal employees while allowing the introduction of new talent into the federal service.
- Consolidate agencies and streamline processes to cut costs and improve results in everything from energy permitting to worker retraining to trade negotiation.
Reducing and stabilizing federal spending is essential, but breathing life into the present anemic recovery will also require fixing the nation’s tax code to focus on jobs and growth. To repair the nation’s tax code, marginal rates must be brought down to stimulate entrepreneurship, job creation, and investment, while still raising the revenue needed to fund a smaller, smarter, simpler government. The principle of fairness must be preserved in federal tax and spending policy.
America’s individual tax code applies relatively high marginal tax rates on a narrow tax base. Those high rates discourage work and entrepreneurship, as well as savings and investment. With 54 percent of private sector workers employed outside of corporations, individual rates also define the incentives for job-creating businesses. Lower marginal tax rates secure for all Americans the economic gains from tax reform.
- Make permanent, across-the-board 20 percent cut in marginal rates
- Maintain current tax rates on interest, dividends, and capital gains
- Eliminate taxes for taxpayers with AGI below $200,000 on interest, dividends, and capital gains
- Eliminate the Death Tax
- Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
The U.S. economy’s 35 percent corporate tax rate is among the highest in the industrial world, reducing the ability of our nation’s businesses to compete in the global economy and to invest and create jobs at home. By limiting investment and growth, the high rate of corporate tax also hurts U.S. wages.
- Cut the corporate rate to 25 percent
- Strengthen and make permanent the R&D tax credit
- Switch to a territorial tax system
- Repeal the corporate Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
Mitt Romney believes that free trade is essential to restoring robust economic growth and creating jobs. We need to open new markets beyond our borders for American goods and services on terms that work for America.
Opening New Markets
Every president beginning with Ronald Reagan has recognized the power of open markets and pursued them on behalf of the United States. George W. Bush successfully negotiated eleven FTAs, encompassing sixteen countries. He also had the vision to commence negotiations with a number of allies around the Pacific Rim to expand significantly the Trans-Pacific Partnership. All told, these agreements have enabled people across the world to come together and build a better future. Economists estimate that the agreements have led to the creation of 5.4 million new American jobs and support a total of nearly 18 million jobs. Looking beyond just our FTA partners, our total exports support nearly 10 million American jobs. These are not just jobs; they’re good jobs, paying significantly above average, and more than one-third are in manufacturing.
- Reinstate the president’s Trade Promotion Authority
- Complete negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership
- Pursue new trade agreements with nations committed to free enterprise and open markets
- Create the Reagan Economic Zone
China presents a broad set of problems that cry out urgently for solutions. It is time to end the Obama administration’s acquiescence to the one-way arrangements the Chinese have come to enjoy. We need a fresh and fearless approach to that trade relationship. Our first priority must be to put on the table all unilateral actions within our power to ensure that the Chinese adhere to existing agreements. Anyone with business experience knows that you can succeed in a negotiation only if you are willing to walk away. If we want the Chinese to play by the rules, we must be willing to say “no more” to a relationship that too often benefits them and harms us.
- Increase CBP resources to prevent the illegal entry of goods into our market
- Increase USTR resources to pursue and support litigation against unfair trade practices
- Use unilateral and multilateral punitive measures to deter unfair Chinese practices
- Designate China a currency manipulator and impose countervailing duties
- Discontinue U.S. government procurement from China until China commits to GPA
Mitt Romney is pro-life. He believes it speaks well of the country that almost all Americans recognize that abortion is a problem. And in the quiet of conscience, people of both political parties know that more than a million abortions a year cannot be squared with the good heart of America.
Mitt believes that life begins at conception and wishes that the laws of our nation reflected that view. But while the nation remains so divided, he believes that the right next step is for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade – a case of blatant judicial activism that took a decision that should be left to the people and placed it in the hands of unelected judges. With Roe overturned, states will be empowered through the democratic process to determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by judicial mandate.
Mitt supports the Hyde Amendment, which broadly bars the use of federal funds for abortions. As president, he will end federal funding for abortion advocates like Planned Parenthood. He will protect the right of health care workers to follow their conscience in their work. And he will nominate judges who know the difference between personal opinion and the law.
Because the good heart of America knows no boundaries, a commitment to protecting life should not stop at the water’s edge. Taking innocent life is always wrong and always tragic, wherever it happens. The compassionate instincts of this country should not be silent in the face of injustices like China’s One-Child policy. No one will ever hear a President Romney or his vice president tell the Chinese government that “I fully understand” and won’t “second guess” compulsory sterilization and forced abortion.
Americans have a moral duty to uphold the sanctity of life and protect the weakest, most vulnerable and most innocent among us. As president, Mitt will ensure that American laws reflect America’s values of preserving life at home and abroad.
Stem Cell Research
Great advancements in science are welcome antidotes to human frailty. The desire to save and strengthen the lives of those we love is noble and good, yet the promise of science does not justify discarding our moral duty to protect human life in its most vulnerable form. Scientific research and the preservation of human dignity are complementary, and America’s laws must reflect this conviction.
Stem cell research is a great scientific frontier, and it must be pursued with respect and care. When confronted with the issue of stem cell research as governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney chose to support life by vetoing a bill that would have allowed the cloning of human embryos. Quite simply, America cannot condone or participate in the creation of human life when the sole purpose of its creation is its sure destruction.
Adult stem cell research and alternative methods to derive pluripotent stem cells, such as altered nuclear transfer and direct reprogramming, are scientific paths that carry much promise and avoid raising ethical concerns. As president, Mitt will focus his energy on laws and policies that promote this kind of research to unlock the medical breakthroughs that our lovedဠones so desperately need.
The values that Mitt Romney learned in his home have enriched his life immeasurably. With his parents’ example before him, he married, had five sons, and now basks in the joy of eighteen grandchildren.
Marriage is more than a personally rewarding social custom. It is also critical for the well-being of a civilization. That is why it is so important to preserve traditional marriage – the joining together of one man and one woman. As president, Mitt will not only appoint an Attorney General who will defend the Defense of Marriage Act – a bipartisan law passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton – but he will also champion a Federal Marriage Amendment to the Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman.