With the Bad Orange Man Safely Gone, Mitt Romney Cosplays as Bernie Sanders

Senate Television via AP

Sen. Mitt Romney has always been fairly liberal for a Republican. The “severely conservative” former Massachusetts governor was the godfather of Obamacare, after all. He also spent most of his formative years as a politician being pro-choice before changing his tune for political expediency. As I’ve said before, he’s Larry Hogan if Larry Hogan had any self-control.

Even still, you’d think Romney would keep to some basic tenets, one of those being fiscal sanity. It’s a theme he’s promoted before, including while he ran for president and during the Trump years, with him leveling criticism of spending levels. But the bad orange man is gone, and Romney is apparently throwing caution to the wind.

He now wants a massive new monthly entitlement in order to promote child-birth.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney on Thursday unveiled an ambitious plan to pay families up to $350 per month per child, a measure which the Republican says will promote marriage and help alleviate child poverty without adding to the federal budget deficit.

The proposed bill, The Family Security Act, goes even further than one from Democrats to increase child tax credits as part of a coronavirus stimulus bill. Democrats have proposed increasing the child tax credit from $2,000 to $3,600, and allow for payouts to be distributed before families file their taxes.

Romney proposes paying families $350 per month for each child up to five years old, and $250 per month for children between 6 and 17 years old.

 

Here’s the problem with all this. While Romney claims that this will cost us nothing by getting rid of some other tax deductions and programs (SALT, TANF, reforming the EIT credit), absolutely no permanent government benefit ever comes in at its proposed budget. Just like every single other entitlement before it, a program like this would balloon, it would be expanded, and it would inevitably overshoot its estimated costs by many magnitudes. Romney has not outsmarted the system here. He’s just pretending to not understand how it works. Further, there’s zero chance Democrats would ever follow through on offsetting any costs by getting rid of SALT, changing tax credits, etc. We’d just end up with entitlements stacked on entitlements.

Under Romney’s plan, some households could get up to $15,000 a year, and this wouldn’t begin to phase out until you reach $200,000 a year in income. While I fully understand that kids aren’t cheap, I can speak from personal experience and say that the threshold for being able to comfortably raise multiple children monetarily is far, far lower than $200,000 a year. A lot of this money would be going to people who don’t need it, and worse, it would lead to further devaluation of the dollar, raising the cost of living for everyone. Handing out free money is not an action without unintended consequences.

And look, I realize some are going to disagree with me here. There’s a sizable portion of the GOP, ironically, mostly on the Trump side, who want more social engineering and benefits paid to average Americans. I’m not against doing things to help, but we’ve all seen this movie play out before. It’s just not a good idea to enshrine another permanent entitlement that will undoubtedly turn into a huge cluster of fraud and over-expense.

But the orange guy is gone, so Romney is free to stop bleating about fiscal responsibility to the swoons of the anti-Trump establishment. Business as usual is back.