Romney hints at eliminating HUD, cutting Education

Speaking at a Florida fundraiser, GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney hinted he might eliminate the Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) and dramatically restructure the Education Department if he becomes president.

The former Massachusetts governor and presumptive Republican nominee made his remarks at a closed-door event in the backyard of a private home. Reporter Garrett Haake of NBC filed a news report on April 15 on the remarks he and other reporters overhead from the sidewalk below.

Romney spoke in detail about possible plans for HUD, which was led by his father, George Romney, during the Nixon administration. Mitt Romney said to the donors that he may eliminate HUD.

"I'm going to take a lot of departments in Washington, and agencies, and combine them,” Romney said, according to NBC. “Some eliminated, but I'm probably not going to lay out just exactly which ones are going to go. Things like Housing and Urban Development, which my dad was head of, that might not be around later.”

HUD's budget is primarily paying for housing and rental assistance, along with block grants to communities. About $379 million a year is devoted to information technology. Recent programs noted in the most recent IT strategic plan for 2007-2012 include system modernization, transformation of IT infrastructure, training of IT professionals and improved data collection and distribution.

Romney, at the fundraiser, said he "will send a lot of what happens in Washington back to the states." However, he did not specify whether the federal government would continue to fund those activities that are sent back to the states. If not, then fiscal constraints at the state level presumably would result in major cutbacks to any federal programs devolved to the states.

Asked about the fate of the Education Department if he wins the presidency, Romney said it would be overhauled.

"The Department of Education: I will either consolidate with another agency, or perhaps make it a heck of a lot smaller,” Romney said.

But, he added, Education is not going to be eliminated.

“I'm not going to get rid of it entirely," Romney said. He explained that the agency would maintain a federal role in pushing back against teachers' unions, according to the NBC report.

Reorganizing the government in an effort to reduce costs is a recurring theme in recent months. President Barack Obama is also seeking Congressional authority to consolidate agencies.  

Romney added that he had learned a lesson in his failed 1994 campaign for U.S. Senator in Massachusetts, in which he had spoken of wanting to eliminate the federal Education department.

At that time, Romney was a newcomer to politics, and he lost to Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy, who had run ads accusing him of being uncaring because of his stance on the Education agency.

Romney recently has mentioned that 1994 experience in several recent interviews with the press and has said it has contributed to his caution in speaking in public about specific cuts or curtailments to federal agencies.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Wed, Aug 29, 2012

I want to see Mitt's birth certificate because he not at all like his father, George Romney. George, a Republican, was so respectful to the American people and to forthright, honest, open leadership that he made public 12 years of tax returns when he ran for President. George earned millions less than his son but payed a tax rate several times more than only the 13% his son paid. And of course, George did not abuse tax loopholes or hide hundreds of millions in offshore tax havens. At AMC, George instituted company-wide savings, and he and other execs reduced their salaries by up to 35%. The stock rose from $7 to $90 per share, making him a millionaire. However, when he felt his salary and bonus was excessively high, he gave the excess back to the company. George as Nixon's HUD Secretary continued the initiatives of President Johnson’s Great Society and had a deep concern with ending racial segregation and income inequality. In his 1968 book, The Concerns of a Citizen, George warns of "the mounting danger of hostile confrontation between an achieving society and a dependent society—suburb against slum, prosperous against poor, white against black, brother against brother...would be the death of America."

Tue, May 8, 2012 Mike

HUD provides food and housing relief to people with disabilities, illness or are poor usually single moms. Seems cruel to cut this area with unemployment so high. I hope Gov. Romney turns centrist on the issue. Most people are struggling yet the average executive still makes one to five hundred times more than their college educated employee with 10 years of exemplary service. We've allowed executives to get paid ridiculous sums to repackage and take credit for the ideas of their workforce at best or at worst simply lay them off in favor of investment in Vietnam.

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 Puregoldj Bethesda, MD

So, under a President Romney, the Dept. of Education would serve primarily as a union-busting organization??!! For all his talk about dunping government functions on the states -- i.e., either the states have to dramatically increase taxes, or the function is not available to people in many states -- it seems that many Governors, like Walker, Kasich, etc., are already busting unions at the state level. Thus, Romney's Dept. of Education sounds like wasteful big government to me, right? Besides, wouldn't it be REALLY dangerous if people were actually well educated and understood what's going on??

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 Thomas Jefferson in the earth

"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education.

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