Sen. Mitt Romney says if Congressional Democrats and President Joe Biden are set on passing a $3.5 trillion spending bill without a single Republican vote, then Democrats should be responsible for raising the nation’s debt limit.
“Right now it’s my colleagues across the aisle who are raising the spending. They should be the ones who raise the debt ceiling,” Romney said during a wide-ranging visit with The Tribune’s editorial board.
The fight over the debt limit is a high-stakes game of “chicken” playing out in Congress, where Democrats have very slim majorities in both the House and Senate.
The debt ceiling does not authorize any new spending. It’s is the maximum amount of money the government is allowed to borrow to meet current debt obligations. Congress has voted to raise the debt limit 78 times since 1960.
The current debt ceiling agreement ran out July 30, and the U.S. Treasury has been taking “extraordinary measures” to keep the government from running out of money. The Congressional Budget Office forecasts the Treasury has enough resources to keep the government afloat until October or November. Failure to raise the debt limit could put the government into default, which economists warn would have disastrous effects on the global economy.
Romney signed onto a letter with 45 of his GOP colleagues in the Senate vowing to not vote to raise the debt limit. That letter was in response to a Democratic plan to muscle through a multi-trillion dollar spending bill using the reconciliation process, which would not require a single Republican vote to pass. Romney thinks Democrats should be on the hook for increasing the borrowing limit.
“Obviously, it’s political in nature,” Romney said. “Let the public know (Democrats) are the ones that are spending it, they’re the ones that have to raise the debt to pay for it.”
Romney singled out a pair of provisions in the Democratic spending plan he felt allowed the feds to intrude on what should be better left to the states.
“In that bill is two years of free pre-K for every child in America. There’s also free community college. I don’t know how you feel about those programs, but they should be done at the state level. Why the federal government is taking them over and saying we’re going to give it to everybody for free. That’s a mistake by itself,” Romney said.
Masks and vaccines
Romney blamed the cultural and political war over masks and vaccines on misinformation.
“The people who are vaccine-hesitant are also authority hesitant. They don’t trust the media. They don’t trust politicians when they say vaccines are a good idea. They tune it out and turn to the internet when they can find people who are anonymous giving them bad information,” Romney said.
Romney says local school boards should be allowed to decide the best course of action for their students and teachers when it comes to masks.
“We should keep the decision-making as close to the people as possible. School boards should be able to decide what is right for their children and district,” Romney said.
“I would love for the school district where my grandchildren are going to provide for their safety,” he added.
The most vocal anti-vaccine and anti-mask citizens like to point to individual liberty to justify their choices, Romney said.
“People say, ‘I want my liberty.’ Well, your liberty affects my health. When that occurs, we have to come to some sort of agreement,” he said.
Romney also favors vaccine mandates for private businesses. If he was still in the private sector, he said he would require his employees to be vaccinated or be responsible for getting tested a every week.