Future 2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney was on NBC’s Meet The Press today, where he blamed the excesses of government for the budget deficit, and overpaid government workers. Specifically, Romney said, “Average government workers, are now making $30,000 a year more than the average private sector worker.”
Here is the video:
Romney said, “We can compete around the world, there’s no question about that, David. We have the capacity to do that. The American workers are the best in the world, our technology is at the leading edge. America, long term, can be the, the powerful economic engine it’s always been. But the real threat right here is something that Alan Greenspan just said, and that is that if we don’t take action to rein in the scale of government and the growth of government spending and the compensation levels of government workers–you saw government workers, average government workers, are now making $30,000 a year more than the average private sector worker.”
He continued, “These kinds of excesses and the massive deficits that, that, that government is putting in place, over a trillion dollars a year for these coming several years, this threatens our long-term viability, because it, it, it suggests that we could have runaway inflation. And, and the Fed and the federal government are going to have to rein in, pull back from what have been the excesses of these past years, Republican and Democrat. It’s not a partisan issue, it’s a growth of government issue. And it’s got to stop, or America’s future could be very much in jeopardy.”
It is clear that attacking Washington is going to be the centerpiece of Romney’s 2012 campaign. The problem for him is that every non-incumbent candidate attacks Washington with the same generic language. When he brought up government workers, he was trying to play into the stereotype that public sector workers are overpaid and lazy.
Romney’s suggestion that public sector employees’ salaries have something to do with the budget deficit is absurd. If government workers are overpaid that why can’t governments at all levels attract and keep top talent? In almost all specialized fields the public sector acts as a training program for the private sector.
The reality is that discretionary spending, which is the part of the budget that the government can cut, makes up only one third of the total budget. The other two thirds are mandatory spending. Employee salaries make up a very small portion of government spending. Romney knows this, but he keeps uttering this kind of gibberish, in the hope that Republicans will make him their 2012 nominee.