BOSTON (Reuters) - Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on Thursday said slashing subsidies for arts programs and Amtrak passenger rail service, along with funds for family planning, would be among his budget-cutting moves if elected.
Romney also urged taking on “electrified third rails that allegedly can’t be touched” by raising the retirement age for younger workers and limiting Social Security retirement benefits increases for those with higher incomes.
But to fix entitlement programs, tax increases should not be considered, he added.
“Eliminate every government program that is not absolutely essential,” Romney said in an editorial published on the USA Today website. “Consolidate, eliminate, and streamline federal departments, agencies and offices.”
The former Massachusetts governor repeated a pledge made recently to lower federal spending as a share of GDP to 20 percent or below, from 24.3 percent, by the end of his first term, which would be 2016.
“This level is in line with the historical average, and nears the tax revenue our country generates when healthy,” Romney said.
Romney assumed U.S. growth of 4 percent — last seen in 2000 when GDP rose 4.2 percent — in saying that hitting the spending goal would require about $500 billion of cuts in 2016.
The U.S. economy grew at 2.9 percent in 2010. The Federal Reserve forecasts real GDP growth at about 1.7 percent this year and at 2.4 percent to 2.7 percent in the longer run, beyond 2014.
Almost 20 percent of Romney’s proposed savings would come from his promise to repeal the 2010 federal Affordable Care Act, the signature piece of domestic legislation of Democratic President Barack Obama.
Romney promised “deep reductions” in subsidies for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Legal Services Corporation, which provides access to legal assistance to low-income Americans.
Romney also proposed eliminating Title X family planning programs “benefiting abortion groups like Planned Parenthood.”
Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Vicki Allen