Mitt Romney hasn’t shied away from making big promises about his potential presidency. On issues like employment, the budget, and energy, Romney’s appealed to voters by vowing major improvement.
But many of these promises come with an asterisk.
Specifically, he and his campaign concede they will take two full terms to accomplish, which leaves him off the hook if he makes little progress in his first four years.
Here are his three big second-term promises:
1) Balance The Federal Budget
Romney says he’ll eliminate federal deficits, but not until 2020.
At an Ohio campaign rally in August, he told supporters, “we’re going to have to get serious about doing something politicians talk about but don’t do, and that is cut spending, cut the deficit and finally get America on track to have a balanced budget. And I’ll do it.”
But as he noted in an interview the following month, that won’t happen right away.
“I’ll balance the budget by the end of my second term,” Romney vowed on Meet the Press last month. “Doing it in the first term would cause, I believe, a dramatic impact on the economy. Too dramatic. And therefore the steps I’ve put in place and we’ve put together a plan that lays out how we get to a balanced budget within eight to 10 years.”
2) Energy Independence For North America
One of Romney’s most common, and substantively problematic, promises is that he’ll make the North American continent energy independent … but not for eight years.
“By the end of my second term, I make this commitment,” Romney said at a campaign rally in Ohio this August. “We will have North American energy independence. We won’t have to buy oil from Venezuela and the Middle East.”
3) Military Spending At 4 Percent Of GDP
Most recently, Romney’s shifted one of his boldest campaign promises — to set military spending at or above 4 percent of GDP — into a similar realm of uncertainty. He’ll get it done — but probably not until his presidency is coming to an end.
“The goal of 4 percent of GDP remains and is unchanged. But that goal is not going to be achieved overnight or perhaps even by the end of the first term,” his adviser Dov Zakheim told Bloomberg.
Recently, anonymous Romney advisers told the Washington Post that the GDP goal is, in the Post’s words, “not likely to be reached until the end of a second Romney term.”
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.