Romney outlines $500 billion in annual pay, workforce, program cuts

Romney spoke during campaign stops in Los Angeles and Costa Mesa, Calif., Monday. Romney spoke during campaign stops in Los Angeles and Costa Mesa, Calif., Monday. Charles Dharapak/AP

In an address in Los Angeles Monday, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney said reducing the federal workforce, bringing federal pay into line with private sector compensation, reorganizing government and improving its efficiency would result in savings of $500 billion a year within four years after he took office.

"I will look to sharply increase the productivity of Washington by reducing federal government employment by 10 percent through attrition, by combining agencies and departments to reduce overhead, by cracking down on the $115 billion a year in improper payments in government programs, and by aligning government compensation with that of the private sector," Romney told the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Romney did not provide specifics on which agencies and departments would be combined. The Daily Caller reported that Romney adviser Ed Gillespie also declined to address exactly which agencies would be affected in a conference call with reporters before the speech. “We’ll continue to talk about those mergers,” he said.

Romney also said he would send certain programs "that have been growing uncontrollably fast" back to the states, and limit their growth to the rate of inflation.

"These things combined will reduce spending by about $500 billion a year by the end of my first term," he said.

Romney said he would push for a 5 percent cut in non-security discretionary spending "on my first day in office." The reduction, he said, would be achieved by eliminating "programs that are not absolutely essential" and cutting subsidies for Amtrak, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Legal Services Corporation, and the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities.

"Under President Obama," Romney said, "federal spending peaked at 25 percent of GDP -- a level not seen since World War II. I propose to bring federal spending back to its historical levels, about 20 percent of GDP, and cap it there."

Romney also drew a sharp distinction between himself and President Obama on the overall effectiveness of the federal government. Obama "wants government to tax more and regulate more because he believes government can do a better job than you can," Romney told the business leaders in attendance. "I believe in you. I believe you can do a better job than government."

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