Study: On spending cuts, most GOP candidates light on details

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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All Republicans running for president say they want to cut federal spending.

But a study the libertarian Cato Institute conducted by analyzing the candidates’ websites showed that most of them are light on details about specific cuts they would insist on as president.

The study’s author, Tad DeHaven, wrote in his “Guide to the Presidential Candidates’ Proposals to Cut Spending” that Texas Rep. Ron Paul stands out the most.

“When it comes to proposing specific spending cuts and identifying the dollars amounts, Paul’s website is unrivaled,” DeHaven explained.

“He is the only candidate to put together an actual budget proposal,” he said. “Paul’s spending proposals would amount to the largest reduction in the size and scope of the federal government of any candidate.”

Paul calls for getting rid of the Commerce, Education, Energy, Housing and Urban Development and Interior departments, while also making major cuts to the military. He also believes younger American citizens should be permitted to opt-out of Medicare and Social Security.

When it comes to front-runner Mitt Romney, DeHaven writes that only nine out of 87 pages of the former Massachusetts governor’s “Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth” are on fiscal policy.

“Those nine pages don’t offer much in the way of specific spending cuts,” he wrote. “Romney does suggest some good cuts, but they are not large in budgetary terms.

DeHaven reported that “spending cuts that Romney does specify are not easily found on his website. They are also relatively small cuts that would have little effect on the size and scope of the federal government.”

DeHaven said former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum’s website “doesn’t offer many details or elaboration, but he does list a number of proposals to cut spending,” including the elimination of subsidies for agriculture and energy. When it comes to entitlement programs, DeHaven said Santorum is “vague.” And in terms of defense, he said Santorum clearly favors more military spending.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s website “provides a lot of information, but his spending proposals are a mixed-bag,” DeHaven wrote. “He is heavy on ideas and reforms, but it appears that the federal government’s hand would also remain heavy.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, DeHaven added, “deserves credit for offering specific spending cuts and elaborating on why he believes those cuts would be prudent.”

“However, unlike Paul, Perry proposes to eliminate departments without also eliminating the functions contained within them,” he said.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, he concluded, “doesn’t offer much when it comes to specific spending cut,” though “his relatively reserved views on foreign policy indicate that military spending cuts could be possible.”

As for Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, he said, “The number of specific spending cuts on Bachmann’s website is paltry, and it’s evident that she supports increased military spending given her hawkish statements on foreign policy.”

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