ST. GEORGE — Sen. Mitt Romney made his way to Southern Utah on Wednesday evening to hear from his constituents on a number of topics.
After stopping in Cedar City earlier Wednesday, the junior senator opened the second town hall meeting of the day at the St. George City Hall by reminding his audience that “you are my boss,” urging members to ask questions and voice their concerns freely. He kicked off the hour-long town hall meeting by sharing his views about working in the Senate.
“This isn’t something I expected to be doing; I wanted to be president,” he said, earning a chuckle from the crowd. “That didn’t work out.”
He said his experiences so far have surpassed any of his expectations. Romney was sworn in as a senator in January and spends much of his time in the nation’s capital. The former governor and presidential candidate said he expected people to be “prickly and standoff-ish” in the Senate.
As he met more people in the Senate, Romney said he found that people were “really nice” and welcomed him with open arms.
“Republicans and Democrats, you wouldn’t know one from the other based on how nice they are to each other on the floor,” he said. “We vote differently, and we disagree on issues. People are pretty nice once the cameras are off.”
Romney said he was also surprised by the necessary compromises that are made to pass legislation. Very little can be done in the Senate, he asserted, without bipartisanship. While a bill in the House of Representatives requires a simple majority, the Senate requires 60 votes to pass an act. The Senate currently has 53 Republican members.
Romney said he is working on passing legislation to allow for Hill Air Force Base to hire veterans as civilian employees more quickly, meeting with officials regarding the Lake Powell Pipeline and introducing legislation that would reduce the cost of prescription drugs and limit “surprise billings” for insured citizens.
However, one of the biggest issues Romney touched on Wednesday was the deficit.
“I don’t think it’s ever going to be a problem for you and me and a few of us older folks in the room, because we’ll just keep on borrowing and borrowing and borrowing,” he said. “But the next generation, they’re going to be paying the interest on it. That interest is getting to be a big number.”
In 2018, the federal government spent $4 trillion but only made $3 trillion in taxes, forcing the government to borrow the difference. The increasingly large deficit and President Donald Trump’s tariffs, Romney said, is beginning to scare citizens who believe another recession is around the corner.
The senator, however, said he does not believe there is anything to fear in the meantime.
“I’m not an economist; I don’t have 20-20 vision of the future,” he said, “but I don’t think we’re going into recession.”
Romney said the recent tax cut put more spending money into the pockets of Americans. It is the fear of hard time that brings about a recession, he said, and it “is always possible that something will scare us.”
The senator will be in Richfield on Thursday from 6:30-7:30 p.m. as he continues his town hall meetings tour around Utah.
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