During the debate tonight, Mitt Romney promised that he would go through the budget line by line to root out wasteful spending. The phrasing is familiar: President Obama has used it many times. Here is a small sample:
- September 26, 2008: And, absolutely, we need earmark reform. And when I'm president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely.
- October 7, 2008: I want to go line by line through every item in the federal budget and eliminate programs that don't work and make sure that those that do work, work better and cheaper.
- October 15, 2008: We need to eliminate a whole host of programs that don't work. And I want to go through the federal budget line by line, page by page, programs that don't work, we should cut. Programs that we need, we should make them work better.
- February 23, 2009: To start reducing these deficits, I've committed to going through ourbudget line by line to root out waste and inefficiency, a process that [budget director Peter Orszag] and our administration, our team, has already begun. And I'll soon be instructing each member of my Cabinet to go through every item in their budgets as well.
- January 27, 2010: We will continue to go through the budget, line by line, page by page, to eliminate programs that we can't afford and don't work.
- November 29, 2010: I promised to go through the budget line by line to eliminate programs that have outlived their usefulness, and in each of the budgets I've put forward so far, we've proposed approximately $20 billion in savings through shrinking or ending more than 120 of such programs.