Finance

Romney hits GOP for increasing deficits

Utah Senate candidate and former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney criticized the GOP on Monday for ballooning the federal deficit after years of party rhetoric about fiscal responsibility.

"Republicans have been shouting about this as long as I can remember," Romney wrote on his campaign website. "We called for an amendment to balance the budget. Just a few years ago, the Tea Party movement brought new energy to the issue. But now that Republicans are in charge in Washington, we appear to have become silent about deficits and debt."

The federal deficit swelled this year following the December 2017 passage of the GOP's signature tax law and a bipartisan deal to boost discretionary spending. The tax law alone was projected to add almost $1.9 trillion to deficits over a decade.

In the first 10 months of the fiscal year, the deficit hit $682 billion, up $116 billion from the same period in 2017, and more than than the deficit total for last year, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Spending rose 4 percent in that time period, while revenues increased 1 percent.

Romney noted that the U.S. had to borrow money from abroad to pay for those deficits, and that the interest payments were becoming their own source of financial strain.

"The interest paid last year by American taxpayers on that debt was nearly $300 billion," the former Massachusetts governor wrote. "To put our interest payment in perspective, it's about 20 times as much as a wall facing Mexico would cost, and approximately 40 percent of our total military budget."

President Trump had promised to eliminate the entirety of the accumulated federal debt over two terms in office. Instead, the debt has surged, surpassing $21 trillion.

Romney is expected to cruise to victory in November, in a red state where Trump's popularity is waning. Trump's approval rating in Utah dropped 29 percentage points between January 2017 and July 2018, according to polling figures from Morning Consult.

Some GOP observers see Romney taking on the mantle of a Republican foil to Trump in the Senate following the recent death of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a vocal critic, and the impending retirement of others such as Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)

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