Fedblog FedblogFedblog
Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

Romney, Vegas, Business and Government


In late May, Mitt Romney, on the verge of officially clinching the Republican presidential nomination, held a rally in Las Vegas.

“I was speaking with one of these business owners who owns a couple of restaurants in town,” said the future GOP standard-bearer. “And he said, ‘You know, I’d like to change the Constitution. I’m not sure I can do it. I’d like to have a provision in the Constitution that in addition to the age of the president and the citizenship of the president and the birthplace of the president being set by the Constitution, I’d like it also to say that the president has to spend at least three years working in business before he could become president of the United States.’

“You see, then he or she would understand that the policies they’re putting in place have to encourage small business, make it easier for business to grow,” Romney went on. “They'd understand that if they say something negative about Las Vegas it means that businesses and government agencies aren’t going to come here. And that would mean that people who have jobs in hotels will lose those jobs.”

Watch the video (courtesy Buzzfeed) here:

Setting aside Romney’s rather bold move, in the wake of the then-burgeoning General Services Administration conference spending scandal, of criticizing the Obama administration for at one time having discouraged agencies from holding events in Vegas, his remarks were telling in another way. They emphasized the lengths Romney has gone in this year’s campaign to emphasize his business credentials.

Romney has a fairly long record of public service, dating from his efforts to salvage the 2002 Winter Olympics to his tenure as Massachusetts governor. He has a track record to run on that includes a series of impressive accomplishments as a government leader. But rather than tout such successes, Romney has put almost all of the focus on his business credentials.

Indeed, when Romney introduced House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate Saturday, Ryan emphasized that his role was to provide balance to the ticket. He said his “record of getting things done in Congress will be a very helpful complement to Governor Romney’s executive and private sector success outside Washington.” (Wags pointed out that the constitutional amendment Romney enthusiastically endorsed in May would bar Ryan from the presidency, however.)

Romney and Ryan may tout different types of experience on the campaign trail, but they have a common philosophy. Both are strong advocates for a much smaller federal government, and have been among the more vociferous critics of federal employee pay and benefits. In April, Romney pointedly lamented the “unfairness” of what he characterizes as high pay for government workers relative to those in the private sector. A month earlier, Ryan had unveiled a budget plan for fiscal 2013 that would cut the federal workforce by 10 percent, extend the federal pay freeze through 2015 and increase employee contributions to their retirement plans.

Of course, many Republicans have made a strong case for slashing government and scaling back pay and benefits for federal employees. But Romney and Ryan are the only ones now running to head up a government staffed by these workers. That may lead them to political victory, but may make it very difficult them to implement their initiatives as the men in charge of Government, Inc.

Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.