In my exchange with Mitt Romney at his Friday press conference in North Las Vegas, I asked him about dealing with sequestration, given the impact the uncertainty is having on business. He called, I believe for the first time, for President Obama and the Congress to agree now to kick the can down the road for up to a year to create the time to find a solution.
HALPERIN: “I want to ask you about two big issues that you have to deal with that aren’t part of your plan now. One is the cuts to the Pentagon. How urgent do you think it is for addressing that? What are your ideas for addressing that? And the other is, some people are saying tax reform, which you also think is a big part of boosting the economy and provides uncertainty until that’s resolved, could take up to a year. What’s your view of how long major tax reform would take if you were elected President?”
ROMNEY: “Well, let’s go back first to the sequestration. I would like to see the President and Congress come together and say we’re going to put a year’s runway from where we are right now, through the next several months, into the term of the next president, hopefully me, but if not me, President Obama, and give me or the next president the capacity to reform our tax system and make sure that our military plans are consistent with the needs of American leadership. I think the idea of massive cuts to our military is a terrible idea. It is going to cause layoffs. It’s going to cause the cessation of various programs essential to American workers and, I presume, to our defense capabilities as well. The Secretary of Defense called these cuts “disastrous.” And, so, I think the Congress and the President, clearly – with the President’s leadership, he should step forward and say, look, these sequestration cuts are unacceptable. The kinds of cuts to our military are unacceptable and the uncertainty caused by the tax changes – some call it a tax cliff or Taxmaggedon – these things don’t help the American economy. We need to have stability here so let’s have at least a year of runway or even six months of runway after the new president is elected so we can have the tax reform and the military spending plans and the budget plans that are consistent with that individual self-leadership and views.”
You can watch the video of the exchange here:
Romney wasn’t specific about what kind of extension terms he would support to put off the automatic cuts. His proposal that the President and Congress put in place a delay, however, could put him at odds with some Republicans in Congress and, of course, the White House.
What complicates Romney’s proposal are the other elements of the Fiscal Cliff — including the various expiring tax cuts and the need to raise the debt limit — that also come to a head in January. Some Democrats would balk at putting off the spending cuts without getting a deal on new revenue.