Sen. Mitt Romney says it's time for President Biden to 'ditch woke advisers'

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Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, takes the Senate subway on Capitol Hill, June 8, 2021, in Washington. Romney used an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal this week to encourage President Joe Biden to focus on the economy. (Manuel Balce Ceneta, Associated Press)

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WASHINGTON — Sen. Mitt Romney says President Joe Biden needs to “ditch his woke advisers” and surround himself with people who want to get the economy working again as record inflation continues to plague the United States.

In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, the Utah Republican touches on the role of the Federal Reserve, curbing government spending, opening public lands for mining and oil production and stemming the flow of illegal immigration. Biden’s errors have worsened inflation, Romney said.

Americans, he said, need the strong economic leadership that only a president can provide.

“Most Americans are having a hard time making ends meet. It’s past time for the Fed to restore its singular focus on monetary stability and leave social policies to the branches of government that are elected by the people,” Romney wrote.

“And the Biden administration must stop nominating doves to the Fed. The central bank needs hard-nosed economists.”

Four nominees to the Federal Reserve are waiting Senate confirmation. The Senate Banking Committee advanced the four after one of Biden’s picks bowed out under bipartisan opposition last month, ending a weekslong boycott by Republicans on the panel.

In the op-ed, Romney wrote that three factors combined during the past two years to create the perfect economic storm, including COVID-19 scrambling supply lines and the Fed keeping “its foot on the accelerator way too long.”

“And the Biden administration did pretty much everything wrong, injecting $1.9 trillion into a supply-constrained economy, sending out stay-at-home checks, letting tenants live rent-free, squeezing oil and gas production, launching an avalanche of growth-killing regulations, lining up behind unions, and pushing yet another deficit-financed budget,” Romney said.

Biden’s domestic focus must be on the economy, he said, adding that at 8.5% nationally and 10.4% in Utah, inflation is “truly hurting people,” especially those with little or no money to spare.

“President Biden needs to ditch his woke advisers and surround himself with people who want to get the economy working again. As for the upcoming midterm elections, remember Bill Clinton’s 1992 mantra: It’s the economy,” Romney wrote.

A Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll this month found record-high inflation, an out-of-control housing market and the multitrillion dollar federal deficit at the top of the list for Congress to address.

“The last thing the economy needs is more near-term deficit spending, so President Biden should shelve Build Back Better permanently,” Romney wrote.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, speaks during a Senate Budget Committee hearing to discuss President Joe Biden’s budget request for fiscal year 2022 on June 8, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Photo: Shawn Thew, Associated Press)

To remain internationally competitive and reduce dependency on foreign products like rare-earth metals, critical minerals and pharmaceuticals, the U.S. needs to pare down regulations throughout the economy, the senator said. The Biden administration can open federal lands and put mining and processing facilities on a fast track for permitting, he said.

Romney said the U.S. also must increase the domestic supply of oil and gas. Building new pipelines to transport oil and gas throughout the country also remains critical, he added.

“Stop the blather about oil companies having more than sufficient leases for drilling — they can’t drill if they can’t get government permits,” he wrote.

Biden last week announced that he will resume oil and gas leasing on federal public lands, an area in which Utah has a critical interest. The Interior Department said it would restart lease/sales of oil and gas both onshore and offshore.

Romney said in the op-ed that it is also critical for Congress to pass a budget that reduces the deficit. Politicians, he said, are inclined to believe accomplishments are tied to starting new spending programs, but the last thing the country needs is more spending.

“Reducing spending, rather, would be quite the accomplishment,” Romney said.

Romney also said Biden must find a way to stop the flood of illegal immigration while accelerating legal immigration. New Americans who can immediately join the workforce should get priority over those who need services that require more government spending, he said.

Without more immigration visas for agriculture, hospitality and other labor-constrained sectors, crops will go unharvested and goods and services will be unnecessarily curtailed, Romney wrote. National visa quotas, he said, could be derived from requests by the states, which know their own local labor markets better than the federal government does.

Romney said the government also must create incentives for labor participation and eliminate incentives for dropping out of the workforce. Safety net programs, he said, should be available only to those who truly need them.

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Dennis Romboy

Dennis Romboy is an editor and reporter for the Deseret News. He has covered a variety of beats over the years, including state and local government, social issues and courts. A Utah native, Romboy earned a degree in journalism from the University of Utah. He enjoys cycling, snowboarding and running.

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