NASHUA — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney yesterday called on Congress to take money from Medicaid, not defense, to compensate for the failure of the congressional supercommittee to agree on deficit reductions.
The committee’s failure will trigger $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, split between defense and nondefense spending.
Romney called on President Obama to introduce legislation to rescind the defense cuts and take the money from elsewhere in the budget, potentially from Medicaid, the state-federal health care program for the poor. “Return that program to the states,’’ Romney said. By telling states that their Medicaid funding would grow at a rate relative to the consumer price index, Romney said, “You more than compensate for the $600 billion that you restored to the defense budget.’’
Romney spoke at BAE Systems, where he also rolled out his second major endorsement in as many days. US Representative Charlie Bass, a New Hampshire Republican, threw his weight behind Romney a day after the former Massachusetts governor received a nod from New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte.
Talking to employees of one of the country’s largest defense contractors, Romney criticized Obama for not doing enough to support the military. Obama plans to visit New Hampshire today.
“The president has shown only a willingness to cut military spending,’’ Romney said. “His answer to a government that’s too big is to keep cutting the military. And this at a time when the world has become more dangerous. It is unacceptable.’’
Obama has actually increased the defense budget. According to the Associated Press, when Obama took office, the defense budget was $513 billion plus $153 billion in spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the budget year that ended Sept. 30, the defense budget was $530 billion plus $159 billion in war spending.
But Romney listed several programs that Obama wants to eliminate, for example, the development of a long-range bomber for the Air Force.
Romney will continue attacking Obama with his first television ad of the race, which will air today in New Hampshire to coincide with Obama’s visit. Romney told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that the ad will show the contrast between what Obama said and what he did, and will make the case that a new leader is needed.
Bass and Romney do not see eye to eye on the supercommittee. Romney has not been willing to back any plan that includes additional revenues. That includes a plan laid out by Senator Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, that would include $800 billion in spending cuts combined with $400 billion in revenue increases.
Bass, like Ayotte, said he would support Toomey’s plan.
Asked about Romney’s opposition, Bass said he supports Romney because he believes Romney has the qualifications, leadership ability, and experience to be a good president.
Holly Shulman, a New Hampshire Democratic Party spokeswoman, criticized Romney’s intransigence on the supercommittee proposal. “Romney has rejected asking the wealthiest to pay a penny to reduce the deficit and his plan gives millionaires more tax cuts,’’ Shulman said.
Shira Schoenberg can be reached at email@example.com.