When I asked him about the unfulfilled promises from previous Republican presidents to reduce the size and cost of government, it produced his longest answer: "I'm in this to get America right. I'm absolutely convinced that the future of liberty, not just for us, but for many in the world, depends on America changing its ways. And we are going to have to dramatically cut back on the scale and influence of government, or else we're going to become a second-tier nation, unable to defend ourselves and defend our liberties and the liberties of friends around the world.
"I've learned it's not just about slowing down the growth of programs, because what will happen four or eight years later is someone will just raise the growth of these programs and we'll be right back to where we started. If you're going to change things you must eliminate programs."
Romney says many programs that "are still good" can be sent to the states "and then grow the funding at the rate of inflation," or in the case of Medicaid or Food Stamps, or workforce training programs, "maybe inflation plus one percent." He predicts if structural changes are made, federal spending will be reduced to "20 percent of GDP, rather than the 25 percent it is today."
Good ideas, but not new for Republicans. The challenge will be getting them through Congress, which even when it is run by Republicans has been difficult.
While evangelical voters blew hot and cold on other GOP candidates during the early primaries, Romney's reception at Liberty University is a sign they are slowly warming to the idea of him as president.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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