Mitt Romney said on Sunday that the U.S. should not take any steps to “bail out” the European economy, and that he hopes whatever happens there, “our banking sector is able to weather the storm.”
Asked what he would be doing during the crisis as president, Romney insisted in an interview Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation, “We’re not going to send checks to Europe. We’re not going to bail out the European banks. We’re going to be poised here to support our economy.”
In his first appearance on a non-Fox News Sunday show, Romney’s comments come as some analysts suggest Europe’s financial crisis could be the single biggest threat to the U.S. economy, at a time when Romney and President Obama appear locked in a tight election where U.S. recovery could be a deciding issue.
President Obama is set to participate in talks beginning on Monday in Mexico with other world leaders in the Group of 20 summit meeting, where debt problems in Greece -- which held elections on Sunday that are seen as a referendum on staying with the euro -- and banking problems in Spain are sure to be a focus.
On another topic, Romney also said during the interview that the “timing is pretty clear” for why President Obama’s decided last week to stop the deportation of hundreds of thousands of undocumented young immigrants. He called presidential politics “a big part of the equation,” and that if Obama was serious about it, he would have done it beforehand.
He declined to flat out say whether he would repeal what Obama has done, instead suggesting he would work for a longer-term approach.
In a separate appearance Sunday on ABC's This Week, White House Senior Advisor David Plouffe acknowledged economic “headwinds from Europe” that are affecting the global economy. He said the White House continues to encourage Europeans themselves to act, and that “first of all, it’s the Europeans’ responsibility to deal with this.”
During his CBS interview, Romney said the U.S. can “certainly offer our counsel and we can look nation-by-nation and talk about the kinds of things we think are appropriate for them to do, which actions we think are too challenging for them to deal with, which actions would have the best chance in shoring up their banking sector.”
But he insisted, “I surely don’t believe that we should expose our national balance sheet to the vagaries of what’s going to be happening in Europe.”
“Europe is capable of dealing with their banking crisis if they choose to do so. Obviously this is going to depend enormously on Germany. But they and others will have to make that decision but we don’t want to go in and start providing funding to European banks,” said Romney.
He added, “Our banks are on a much stronger basis than they were at the time of the last economic crisis and they have built their capital base and their equity base and worked through a lot of their toxic assets, their toxic loans. And hope that regardless of what happens in Europe, that our banking sector is able to weather the storm."
In a separate interview with C-SPAN airing Sunday evening, Romney questioned whether the austerity programs in Europe have gone too far, as some Democrats have suggested. “I can surely tell you that what we would never do would be to dramatically slash spending by a trillion or two trillion dollars as I came into the White House,” he said.
“Instead, I would look to eliminate programs which overtime are going to be growing and taking up a larger and larger scale of our economy. Get rid of some of those programs, like Obamacare, that’s the easiest one to get rid of, and thereby balance our budget, but don’t cut it all in the first year or you could in fact cause a slow down of our economy,” said Romney.
On ABC, Plouffe said in response to Romney’s comments, “Europe doing the right things here to stabilize their situation is important to our small businesses, our workers, the middle class here, and overall economy. And to inject yourself in this for some short-sighted partisan gain, perhaps, is really unbelievable.”
On the topic of the administration’s plan to stop the deportation of young immigrants, Romney said on CBS that that if Obama “really wanted to make a solution that dealt with these kids or with illegal immigration in America, than this is something he would have taken up in his first three and a half years, not in his last few months.”
“This is something Congress has been working on, and I thought we were about to see some proposals brought forward by [Florida GOP] Senator Marco Rubio and by Democrat senators, but the president jumped in and said, `I'm going to take this action,' he called it a stop-gap measure. I don't know why he feels stop-gap measures are the right way to go,” said Romney.
“What I would do, is I’d make sure that by coming into (the White House) I would work with Congress to put in place a long-term solution for the children of those that have come here illegally…” said Romney.
But Plouffe, during his ABC appearance, called such comments from Romney “ironic,” noting he had said he would veto the DREAM Act if passed by Congress. “We’ve tried as hard as we can to pass both the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform. Congress has refused,” Plouffe said.
Other Democrats pounced on Romney's refusal to say whether he would repeal Obama's action. Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., said in a statement: "Today Mitt Romney has given us yet another reminder of his lack of leadership and of his adherence to the extreme fringes of the Republican Party when it comes to matters of importance to the Latino community."