Politics & Policy

It Takes a Fiscal Conservative to Change Washington

A taxing 2008 decision.

More than five years after America weathered a recession and terror attacks on our soil, our economy has not only recovered, it has posted impressive growth. New jobs have been created and investor confidence has been restored. Despite high energy prices and concerns about the housing market, America’s economy remains fundamentally healthy.

To a great extent, a lot of the credit goes to President Bush and his economic team. In 2001 and 2003, the Republican-led Congress worked with the president to pass the best-timed and most effective tax relief since Reagan’s tax overhaul in the early 1980s.

However, much of that tax relief is now threatened with extinction. The Democrats in Congress have made no move to extend these tax cuts past the planned 2010 expiration date, adding considerable uncertainty to the economy. A Democrat in the White House would only make the tax cuts’ expiration a near certainty. This potential tax increase threatens future economic growth and prosperity.

In 2009, we need a president who understands that free-market capitalism is why America grows. We need a president who understands that conservative economic policies of low taxes, limited government and free trade work. That is why I am proud to serve as Governor Mitt Romney’s policy chairman. Governor Romney not only supports these conservative economic principles, but has made them work in one of our country’s most liberal states.

Since President Reagan, the cornerstone of the conservative economic agenda has been lower taxes. Conservatives understand that the fundamental strength of America is found in the American people, not the government. Like Reagan, Governor Romney believes that the American people are strengthened when the burden of government is lowered and taxes are cut. More importantly, Governor Romney has a record of successfully putting this important principle to work.

As governor of Massachusetts, Romney turned a $250 million retroactive capital-gains tax increase into a $250 million refund, made the investment tax credit permanent, passed sales tax holidays, gave property tax breaks to seniors, and in each of his last three years in office, submitted a budget that would have cut the income tax. Today, the Massachusetts economy is stronger, businesses are more confident, and new jobs are being created.

To ensure America’s continued economic growth, Governor Romney has outlined the need for further tax cuts. As a first step to ensuring Americans are able to keep more of their hard-earned money, he will make the Bush tax cuts permanent. He will lower tax rates for all Americans, fight to abolish the death tax, allow middle-class Americans to save money tax-free, and make our corporate tax rates more competitive. This is a strong agenda of lower taxes and strengthening the American economy.

The foundation of Governor Romney’s lower taxes agenda is his pledge to fight proposed tax increases. He was the first 2008 presidential candidate to sign the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” committing himself to oppose any proposed tax increases. The pledge has become an economic policy within itself and institutionalized within the Republican party. By signing it when others will not, Governor Romney has made clear to the American people that his economic policy begins with leaving more money in their hands.

Governor Romney also has a strong record of limiting the size of government. He turned a $3 billion budget gap into a $1 billion surplus, and laid the groundwork for four years of balanced budgets in Massachusetts by eliminating wasteful programs and combining duplicative agencies. When the governor left office, Massachusetts had fewer executive branch state workers than when he took office. By applying conservative economic principles, Governor Romney was able to successfully cut the size of government.

More than any other candidate, Governor Romney has outlined an aggressive agenda to cut the size of government while transforming it to meet this century’s challenges. The centerpiece of Governor Romney’s proposals to limit the size and scope of government is his pledge to veto any budget — Republican or Democrat — that does not cap non-defense discretionary spending at the rate of inflation minus one percent. This will save taxpayers $300 billion over ten years. Governor Romney will also seek line-item veto power and lead a review of each individual federal program to eliminate bureaucracy and waste.

Throughout his career in the public and private sectors, Governor Romney has practiced the policies that many conservatives have advocated for years. More importantly, he has made them work. He has harnessed America’s entrepreneurial spirit whether by transforming companies and lowering taxes as Governor of Massachusetts. He has cut the size of government and closed budget gaps without raising taxes or borrowing more money. Most importantly, he believes that the American people are the source of our greatest strength and that is the heart of conservative economic policy.

— Vin Weber, a former U.S. congressman from Minnesota, is policy chairman for the Romney for President Exploratory Committee.

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