WASHINGTON (AP) ‹ Sounding the keynote for his party's national convention,
Chris Christie promised that GOP nominee Mitt Romney will lay out for the
American people the painful budget cuts it'll take to wrestle the government's
debt and deficit woes under control.
The combative New Jersey governor's hopeful words, however, flew into a headwind
of reality: In nearly a year of campaigning, Romney has yet to detail how he
would do that. Rob Portman, an Ohio senator and former U.S. trade
representative, glossed over his own problems when critiquing President Barack
Obama's trade dealings with China. And former senator and presidential candidate
Rick Santorum stretched the truth in taking Obama to task over his
administration supposedly waiving work requirements in the nation's landmark
A closer look at some of the words spoken at the GOP convention in Tampa, Fla.:
CHRISTIE: "Mitt Romney will tell us the hard truths we need to hear to end the
torrent of debt that is compromising our future and burying our
economy...Tonight, our duty is to tell the American people the truth. Our
problems are big and the solutions will not be painless. We all must share in
the sacrifice. Any leader that tells us differently is simply not telling the
THE FACTS: Romney has made a core promise to cut $500 billion per year from the
federal budget by 2016 to bring spending below 20 percent of the U.S. economy,
and to balance it entirely by 2020. His campaign manifesto, however, is almost
completely devoid of the "hard truths" Christie promises. In fact, Romney is
promising to reverse $716 billion in Medicare savings achieved by Obama over the
coming decade and promises big increases in military spending as well, along
with extending tax cuts for everyone, including the wealthiest.
The few specifics Romney offers include repealing Obama's health care law,
cutting federal payrolls, weaning Amtrak from subsidies, cutting foreign aid and
curbing the Medicaid health care program for the poor and disabled.
But it'll take a lot more than those steps for Romney to keep his vague
promises, which are unrealistic if he's unwilling to touch Medicare and Social
Security in the coming decade. Even the controversial budget plan of his vice
presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., largely endorsed by Romney, leaves
Medicare virtually untouched over the next 10 years.
What's left for Romney to cut is benefit programs other than Medicare and Social
Security, which include food stamps, welfare, farm subsidies and retirement
benefits for federal workers. The remaining pot of money includes the day-to-day
budgets of domestic agencies, which have already borne cuts under last year's
budget deal. There's also widespread congressional aversion to cutting most of
what remains on the chopping block, which includes health research, NASA,
transportation, air traffic control, homeland security, education, food
inspection, housing and heating subsidies for the poor, food aid for pregnant
women, the FBI, grants to local governments, national parks, and veterans'
PORTMAN: "Take trade with China. China manipulates its currency, giving it an
unfair trade advantage. So why doesn't the president do something about it? I'll
tell you one reason. President Obama could not run up his record trillion-dollar
deficits if the Chinese didn't buy our bonds to finance them. Folks, we are as
beholden to China for bonds as we are to the Middle East for oil. This will end
under Mitt Romney."
THE FACTS: Portman is an expert on commerce, having served as President George
W. Bush's trade representative from May 2005 to May 2006. But he didn't fare
particularly well in stemming China's trade advantage, either.
Under Portman's watch, the U.S. trade deficit with China soared by 25 percent in
2005, and the next year it climbed more than 15 percent. By contrast, the
deficit rose 10 percent over the first three years of Obama's presidency,
according to U.S. government figures.
Both the Bush and Obama administrations have launched unfair trade cases against
China at the World Trade Organization, but neither has been able to rebalance
SANTORUM: "This summer (Obama) showed us once again he believes in government
handouts and dependency by waiving the work requirement for welfare. Now, I
helped write the welfare reform bill. We made a lot crystal clear. No president
can waive the work requirement, but as with his refusal to enforce our
immigration laws, President Obama rules like he is above the law."
THE FACTS: The administration did not waive the work requirement. Instead, it
invited governors to apply on behalf of their states for waivers of
administrative requirements in the 1996 law. Some states have complained those
rules tie up caseworkers who could be helping clients directly.
In a July 18 letter to congressional leaders, Health and Human Services
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that to be eligible for a waiver, governors
must commit that their plans will move at least 20 percent more people from
welfare to work. Moreover, states must show clear progress toward the goal
within a year, or lose the waiver.
"We will not accept any changes that undercut employment-focused welfare reforms
that were signed into law fifteen years ago," Sebelius wrote.
Ron Haskins, a former senior Republican House aide who helped write the
welfare-to-work law, has said "there is merit" to the administration's proposal
and "I don't see how you can get to the conclusion that the waiver provision
undermines welfare reform and it eliminates the work requirement."
Haskins, now co-director of the Brookings Center on Children and Families, says
the administration was wrong to roll out its proposal without first getting
Republicans to sign off on it. But he said the idea itself is one both parties
should be able to agree on, were it not for the bitter political divisions that
Associated Press writer Bradley Klapper contributed to this report.