Sen. Mitt Romney criticized President Joe Biden’s new $7.3 trillion budget proposal as a “sleight of hand” at a Senate Budget Committee hearing Tuesday. He also said the committee wasn’t serious about putting together a bipartisan budget.

“It’s appropriate that this hearing is being held during Academy Award season. I’m afraid what we do here is more ‘Barbie’ than it is ‘Oppenheimer,’” said Romney, referring to the movie “Barbie’s” fantasy-land setting, compared to the reality-based “Oppenheimer.”

Romney said the Budget Committee has spent more time talking about climate change than they have about the budget and cutting the deficit. “The public thinks we work on the budget, but we don’t,” he said, adding he wished lawmakers would meet to discuss how to “deal with the debt.”

“We’ve had 28 hearings before today. Do you know how many of those hearings have been on the budget? Two. Now, I’m concerned about the climate, but 14 of our hearings have been on climate change. ... This is a committee that’s about performing, getting on stage and acting like we care about these things, but there’s actually no work being done by this committee to deal with our budget and to deal with federal spending,” Romney said.

After Romney, R-Utah, was finished with his remarks, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., chairman of the committee, defended the committee’s work, saying they needed to prepare for the costs of climate change.

Romney: Wealth tax the ‘stupidest idea I’ve ever heard’

Biden’s budget director, Shalanda Young, was at the hearing to introduce Biden’s just-released budget proposal, which lays out the Biden administration’s fiscal priorities for the coming year. Biden’s budget would raise taxes by $4.9 trillion over 10 years, in part by not renewing most of the Trump-era tax cuts, which will expire at the end of next year.

Romney said Biden’s proposal has no chance of making it through Congress.

“I can put a proposal out there that I know has no chance of passing and pretend like I’m doing something responsible,” he said. “The administration puts a proposal out it knows has no chance whatsoever of passing it because we have Republicans and Democrats — we have to come together and work together, but we don’t.”

Biden’s budget proposal includes tax increases on corporations, on Americans earning over $400,000 a year, and new minimum taxes on unrealized capital gains.

Biden has frequently discussed raising taxes on wealthy Americans, claiming they pay little in taxes. Romney said this was “disingenuous,” because Biden is referring to taxes on wealth versus taxes on income. He asked Young if any other country taxed assets instead of income, and when she didn’t answer directly he said no other country levies taxes this way that he knows of.

“I think it’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard. It would devastate our economy,” he said. “I’m not worried about how much money the billionaires are going to be paying in taxes. That’s not my concern. It’s the idea that we’d be transferring everything from the public markets into private assets that couldn’t be valued easily.”


Romney asked Young if she supported his Fiscal Stability Act, which he sponsored alongside Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. It would establish a bipartisan commission to find solutions to the nation’s $34 trillion national debt.

Young said it would “take bipartisan solutions to deal with our fiscal path,” but didn’t endorse Romney’s plan.

Rep. Blake Moore weighs in on Biden’s budget

In an interview with the Deseret News, Rep. Blake Moore also weighed in on Biden’s budget proposal, saying it moves in the “opposite direction” of the budget proposal from the Republican-led House Budget Committee.

“We’ve got to get serious about this, and the House budget focuses on the keys things that we need to do to find wasteful spending. It balances the budget over 10 years and doesn’t double down on the things that we’ve been doing in the last several years that led to higher deficits,” said Moore, who represents Utah’s 1st District. “So it’s a stark contrast between what President Biden has put out and what House Republicans have put out.”

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