*Taken from Reason. Written by Jacob Sullum.
Presenting his fiscal plan in USA Today last week, Mitt Romney said he wants to “eliminate every government program that is not absolutely essential.” That sounds good until you realize that Romney’s goal of cutting $500 billion fromprojected federal outlays in 2016 would, at best, leave the budget about 8 percent higher than it is now and only 11 percent lower than it would be without any attempt to restrain spending.
The implication: Mitt Romney thinks 89 percent of what the federal government does is “absolutely essential.” And that’s what he says when he is trying to appeal to the fiscally conservative Republicans whose votes he will need to win his party’s presidential nomination. Who knows what he really thinks, assuming he has any firm convictions at all on this crucial question.
The specific cuts highlighted by Romney suggest he does not. He predictably zeroes in on the National Endowment for the Arts, a favorite target of conservatives, but he does not zero it out. Instead he recommends “deep reductions” in the NEA’s funding, which was $155 million this year, or 0.004 percent of the $3.7 trillion federal budget. Likewise, he wants to cut but not eliminate the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.