Romney: Debt is like 'prairie fire'
May 15th, 2012
05:15 PM ET
11 years ago

Romney: Debt is like 'prairie fire'

Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) – In an appeal to middle America on Tuesday, Mitt Romney compared the national debt to a rapidly growing fire hurtling across a prairie.

The presumptive GOP nominee warned Iowa voters they cannot ignore the swelling "crisis of debt and spending that threatens what it means to be an American" during a speech at a hotel in Des Moines.

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"A prairie fire of debt is sweeping across Iowa and across the nation and every day we fail to act, that fire gets closer to the homes and the children we love," Romney said.

Though Romney gave his speech in a state where, only months ago, the Republican presidential candidates battled for the support of conservative caucus-goers, on this trip Romney made an apparent bid for independent voters in the general election battleground.

"Subprime mortgages, they came close to bringing the economy to its knees. This debt is America's Nightmare Mortgage," he said, placing blame for the debt upon both parties. "It is adjustable, no-money down, and assigned to our children. Politicians have been trying to hide the truth about this Nightmare Mortgage for years–just like liar-loans."

He continued: "The time has come for a president, a leader, who will lead. I will lead us out of this debt and spending inferno. We will stop borrowing unfathomable sums of money we can't even imagine, from foreign countries we'll never even visit. I will bring us together to put out the fire."

The presumptive GOP nominee criticized President Barack Obama for his stimulus program and his signature health care law, and called for a "simpler, smaller, smarter" federal government.

Romney nodded to his business background, and proposed moving some functions now performed by the federal government back to states or the private sector.

The speech was Romney's first appearance in Iowa since the state's first-in-the-nation caucus, where the former Massachusetts governor finished a close second to former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

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Filed under: Debt • Iowa • Mitt Romney
soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. Unit34AHunter

    We need to reduce defense spending from $650Bn per year to $200Bn per year, and end Medicare support for life-extending heroic measures for terminally ill patients.

    May 15, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |

    "Deficits don't matter." – Dick Cheney

    What did you think of that comment when it was made Willard?

    May 15, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  3. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Remember when the country was humming along nicely, then the supreme court chose Bush as president, and by 2008, we had gone to hell in a hand basket? As President Obama has gotten us out of the republican mess without a single GOP vote, some people want to elect another republican who has surrounded himself with Bush economic advisors, and they think he will make it better. Kind of like digging in a pile of horse manure looking for the pony.

    May 15, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  4. king

    Lesson mitten that tax cuts for the rich only created debt after debt, rich folks is all about getting richer, this means going where the money is. If mitten cut. Our spending money, big businesses will move to China the next day, taking their jobs where the money at, slave labor, and less competition. Mitten way of giving to the few, and leave the masses in America to fight over the scraps with China and India, will doom this country.

    May 15, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  5. vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    why don't you right wingers accept that "deficits don't matter" like your beloved leader Cheney once said? Or does that only count with a Republican in the White House?

    May 15, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  6. Lisa P

    You know what "threatens what it means to be an American"? "Divide and conquer." "Winner take all." The fact that those like Romney who weren't hurt by this recession are now trying to use it at a wedge issue to grab even more power and less oversight of their greedy, self-serving business dealings. An American would say "we're all in this together." An American would step up to the plate even though it might mean a short-term loss, or cost, for the long-term health of our people and our nation. So where are you, Mitt Romney, and your chummy club of billionaires? All you seem to be doing is cheering the fire on, in hope of becoming king of the ashes. You disgust me. You are no American as far as I'm concerned.

    May 15, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    ... BEND... wrote:

    Debt is like 'prairie fire'
    Or in Greece's case, fire and riots in the street. Look at California and Gerry Brown, now $16 BILLION in the hole after raising taxes. Result, less tax revenues and people and businesses fleeing the state, making the situation even worse.
    Greece's problems are more of a result of draconian austerity measures they enacted and killed jobs growth.

    California is $16 billion in the hole after *tax cuts* not tax increases. The state had a huge defiict problem *before* Brown was re-elected Governer due to in large part the budget busting tax cuts implemented by his Republican predecessor.

    May 15, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  8. Dave

    And debt has expanded by $5 trillion under Obama (who complained about Bush's debt when he campaigned)!

    May 15, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  9. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Unfunded wars must not add to our national debt, because Mittens is becoming a chicken hawk like Cheney.

    May 15, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  10. demogoat

    Federal taxes as a percent of GDP are very low. Scrap the tax code. How much are we going spend? Start with a number 2.7T or 3T/year. Raise that amount of revenue and cut spending to match that number.

    May 15, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  11. BLKMANinAmerica

    Wire Palladin, S.F..................................THANK YOU for stating the facts as they are. THAT is soooooooooooo my point, and I will add this............we can't "fix" the problem until we admitt how we got to this point. NOT 1 repuk has stated the fact that America's debt is thanks to GW Bush and Co., 2-tax cuts for the wealthy that were never paid for, that and fighting 2 wars that until President Obama were never paid for nor where the American people ever told of the costs. If Romney wins and that's a hugh IF, he will continue to NOT speak on the facts and America will find itself 150% worse off then we are today. THE TRUTH IS THE LIGHT, but not for repuks because they prefer to STAY IN THE DARK!

    May 15, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    ""A prairie fire of debt is sweeping across Iowa and our nation and every day we fail to act we feed that fire with our own lack of resolve," "

    Lack of resolve leading to inaction? Oh, I dunno about that Deputy Doublethink. I seem to remember somwhere around January 20, 2009 a certain GOP/Teatroll party RESOLVED to do everything it could to DO NOTHING and PREVENT ANYTHING FROM BEING DONE. They're proven to have loads of resolve...record setting filibuster rate, an appointment/nomination process brought to a standstill, signing pledges and promises to organizations other than the US Government and Constitution, voting en masse against anything and everything proposed by anyone but the party leadership. It wasn't a lack of resolve that has led to inaction: it is the GOP/Teatrolls resolve to "make sure he is a one term president" that has led to the utter dysfunction of our government and its inability to act.

    May 15, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  13. TomInRochNY

    What does he know about prairie fires? "It sounds good to my target audience." What does he know about business success? "I made millions for myself and others at Bain Capital." Look up America, the vultures are circling.

    May 15, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  14. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Much of Mittens financial success came from government bailouts. The olympics, selling off parts of businesses and getting government bailouts on the parts that went under. He is a liar, and not much of a businessman.

    May 15, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  15. BLKMANinAmerica

    Romney will NOT help America out of this "crisis" nor will any repuk they only will make the entire situation worse. While the Dems worked on solving America's problems without any help what-so-ever from the repuks, the situation has improved some. Not totally there yet but at least America is not where it was during GW Bush & Co. DESTRUCTIVE phase. I say and this is def an "I" statement..............if American's can't even get the repuks to talk about GW Bush (none of them have even stated his name, how then can we (America) expect any repuk to solve America's problems?

    May 15, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  16. Woman In California

    "This is not a Democratic or Republican problem," he will say, adding that both parties deserve blame for the burgeoning debt.

    And so we should automatically FORGET W was a (R) who started with a SURPLUS and passed on a DEFICIT to our president a (D) and that we should give control back to a (R) to start this insanity all over again? Does he really think we are that stupid? I really hope the American people remember (R)s are no good at the economy and history backs that up with FACTS.
    Obama 2012 so we can keep moving forward.

    May 15, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  17. tellin it like it is

    >"Deficits don't matter." – Dick Cheney

    how much was the deficit and debt when the statement was made. context matters.

    May 15, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  18. Truth will set you free

    Here is something to think about.
    If Bush had left the Clinton budget plan in place the national debt would have been paid off by.....2012.
    That right folks if W had left things alone we would be debt free. Of course the world economy would crash as a direct result of us being debt free, but hey at least we would be free.

    May 15, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  19. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Current national debt is $15.5 trillion. Reagan, Bush and Bush 2 national debt responsibility is $12 trillion. Under Obama, $3.5 trillion spent to get out of Iraq, Stimulus, tax cuts for wealthy, unfunded war in Afghanistan, etc.

    May 15, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  20. sonny chapman

    Who struck the 1st match ? Hint: He inherited a surplus which he quickly turned into a deficit.

    May 15, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  21. Sue

    Romney is sooooooooo right on everything that he is saying!! There are now thousands of businesses/business owners throughout the country who are sitting on money, waiting to hire, etc--until they see Romney win the White House. Once Romney wins, the jobs will open up again for millions of US citizens-because they know that Romney will not want to increase taxes on every dime of their profits, and he will get rid of Obamacare!!

    May 15, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  22. stranger in an increasingly strange land

    That fire might not be as big or growing as fast if the Republicans were not doing their best to fan the frames (supporting deregulation that just allowed J P Morgan to lose $2,000,000,000 in two weeks) or to cut off the water supplies (tax cuts fir the top one percent of Americans)
    Great analogy. Of course if it were your home that was threatened you would justy move to one of the other ones and leave the servants to fight the flames and clean up. Just like you want the middle class and poor to do if you get elected.

    May 15, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  23. The REAL Truth...

    LOL – Bayner is asking Repugs "to force the elected leadership of this country to solve our structural fiscal imbalance,".... ?? Seriously ?? It's infantile coming from the very group of folks that caused the problems in the first place! Excessive DEFICIT spending, SS raiding, tax increasing GOP Presidents (except Dubya – who's cuts held ad to the mess) caused this mess in the first place. Hypocrisy rules in the Grand Obstructionist Party camp, along with amnesia and vacuous, irrelevant revisionist versions of ACTUAL history.

    When we have the meltdown that occurred at the end of 2008 that resulted from these miserable trickle-down GOP supply-side policy failures – with $1.3T DEFICIT, 24 DEBT Ceiling increases, 700,000+ jobs a month being lost and an $850B TARP bailout – severe measures are needed. When private industry stagnates and a HUGE DEPRESSION is barreling down on us, govt must step in (no matter the cost, and it IS/WAS VERY expensive).

    The definition of insanity is repeating the same process and expecting a different outcome. Going back to policies of the GOBP that got us where we are is not the solution. We can see how well the conservative austerity measures are working in Europe. Every single election is being lost by Conservatives... check the FACTS people. Vote intelligently... do NOT give out country back to the GOP to rape and pillage at the public trough. Our children's future is at stake !!

    May 15, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  24. kakaraka

    What a joke? How a government could be a smaller, simpler and smarter when you cut vital social programs for the needy poor, seniors, students, disabled, women and in the meantime give billions of dollars tax spending loopholes for wealthies, big corporations on the back of the poor? Are you Mitt serious? This guy think that a government should be managed like a corporation with focus on profits. I tell you what, the government's focus should be on the people. And corporations are not people. There is no such thing as smaller government. Period. Bush tried it but increase government significantly before President Obama.

    May 15, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  25. Tex71

    There is no greater hypocrisy than claiming to be fiscally responsible while fighting to cut already low taxes on the richest people in human history.

    May 15, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
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