Which Promises Will Romney Break?

Having stirred up quite a controversy last week by suggesting that a Republican victory would be the only way to produce an end of gridlock in Washington, Ramesh Ponnuru now looks at the consequences of such a victory, and points out a Romney administration with a GOP-controlled Congress would have some issues as well. He notes one promise made by Mitt and many conservative members of Congress that would definitely have to go thanks to that Cut-Cap-Balance pledge Jim DeMint was pressuring Republicans to sign last year:

Perhaps worst for Romney, the government will hit the debt ceiling again early next year. During the primaries, he pledged not to raise it unless Congress passes a constitutional amendment to limit federal spending to 18 percent of the economy. That would take a two-thirds vote by the House and the Senate. It’s not going to happen.

A Romney presidency, in other words, would have to start with his breaking a promise to conservatives.

Well, that’s what you get when you decide to pretend the debt limit is inconsequential, and/or that it’s easy to achieve a balanced budget with non-defense spending cuts alone (even as you cut upper-income and corporate taxes).

Ponnuru spends much of his column discussing whether Romney will pursue tax cuts or spending cuts first. The latter without the former would, of course, not be real good for the economy. I’d guess he and GOP congressional leaders will cram as much as they can on both sides of the budget ledger into a revised Ryan Budget and then go for broke in utilizing reconciliation to get it through Congress without any Democratic votes. If Romney wins yet Republicans fail to take over the Senate, then the whole scenario could change significantly, and I wouldn’t hazard too many guesses about what the new president would do, other than hope for something of a cyclical recovery that makes every fiscal decision easier.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.