NRO: Would it be reasonable to think that within a year, those policy changes would have at least some impact on prices in the market?
Romney: The people who make investments looking at the future prices of oil are estimating what the future will hold. If you take action that shows we are going to develop our resources, it should have an impact on pricing. However, the ultimate time frame to bring these sources of energy on line is a good deal longer than a year. But the move to take advantage of these resources will have a very early impact on the predictions of future prices.
NRO: Are you following the GSA scandal? How pervasive is a culture of waste within the federal bureaucracy — is it endemic or a few bad apples? How would a Romney administration go about changing habits and reducing tolerance for waste and excess?
Romney: I think the example starts at the top. People have to see that the president is not taking elaborate vacations and spending in a way that is inconsistent with the state of the overall economy and the state of the American family.
I believe that any place such as the GSA, where you find leaders who failed to properly oversee their people and to properly manage resources, those managers have to be replaced. At the GSA, you have leadership taking the Fifth, and that’s a pretty clear indication that these folks have not done the job they should have in managing taxpayer dollars and providing transparency.
I can’t tell you how pervasive this is in the various agencies of government. What I can tell you is that there is too much government, too many bureaucrats, and too little willingness to send programs back to the states.
NRO: At a recent fundraiser, you mentioned the possibility of scrapping the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or dramatically rethinking its role. What should the federal government’s role in the housing market be?
Romney: That point that I made suggested that there are many agencies and departments at the federal level which may be able to be combined with other agencies in order to save overhead dollars and reduce the burden of federal regulators on the economy. The role of the Department of Housing and Urban Development has traditionally been to help people with housing vouchers to be able to afford housing, even though they’re poor or out of work. [The question] in my mind is whether that would not be better administered at the state level, with a block grant being provided from the federal government. I think there are some aspects of the Department of Housing and Urban Development which could be better run at the state level, with less fraud and abuse. There are, however, other parts of housing policy which have been designed to encourage manufactured housing to be sold across state lines and across different jurisdictions where building codes have been used to prevent innovations in manufactured housing being accessible to people across the country.