GREENVILLE — Sharon Kingman says she knows Gov. Mitt Romney can fix the federal deficit because she has seen him fix a budget before.
In 1997, Kingman moved to Salt Lake City to help with the 2002 Winter Olympics. Those games almost crumbled when it was revealed the Salt Lake City organizing committee had bribed members of the International Olympic Committee to win the games.
“We had lost all of our sponsors. ... We were facing a billion shortfall in revenues,” said Greenville resident Kingman, who was born in Memphis but raised in South Carolina. “The games really were in jeopardy.”
Romney took over the games after the scandal, and, within three years, the Salt Lake committee “went from a billion in the red to $100 million in the black,” Kingman said.
“If someone would have told me Mitt could have made it that good that fast, I probably wouldn’t have believed it,” she said. “He was a phenomenal boss. Great vision, great leader.”
If Romney is elected president, he will face a federal budget deficit of $1.1 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Fixing it will not be easy. Unlike the Winter Olympics, where Romney could make decisions largely by himself, he would have to work with a partisan Congress. But Kingman said running the Olympics is “extremely political,” involving balancing the competing interests of hundreds of athletic associations and countries.
“He was able ... to make people work together,” she said. “People will work together if there is a shared vision. That’s what he did in Massachusetts. It is what he did in Salt Lake City.”
Critics say Romney’s plan to reduce the deficit, which does not include raising taxes, is not realistic. Instead, Romney has said he would cut spending, for example, by restricting how much money Medicaid – the federal health insurance program for the poor and disabled – pays to the states.
Cutting spending for Medicaid, one of the most expensive federal programs, would force South Carolina to cut services for some of its poorest residents, critics say. But Kingman said she supports Romney’s health-care proposals because they are based on “free enterprise.”
“We as individuals, when given the opportunities to make our own choices ... will make the best fiscal decision for ourselves.”
Reach Beam at (803) 386-7038.