Contrasting himself with President Barack Obama, who has yet to put forth a detailed plan of his own on reviving America’s economy, and perhaps with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has taken the lead in most national and state polls and whose biggest strength is his argument that he is the best candidate to get “American working again,” former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney released a detailed jobs plan in Nevada on Tuesday that had 59 specific proposals over roughly 160 pages.
Romney accused Obama of having policies for the “pay phone” era while the country was in a “smartphone” era.
Romney’s plan called for lowering the corporate tax rate to 25%, eliminating taxes on capital gains, interest, and dividends for middle class citizens making below $100,000, and a “Reagan Economic Zone” among countries that agree to and honor free trade rules and agreements. Romney also called for a crackdown on unfair trading practices of the Chinese government.
Romney strength — and perhaps his weakness — is his meticulousness and focus on details. His plan doubles down on his strength, and frames him as a candidate who, even to the point of micromanaging, is brimming with eager ideas to fix an economy that is hurting.
Further, though Romney blistered Obama’s policies, he did not attack him personally, saying that he was a good man. Romney is assuming that independent voters still like Obama personally even though they detest his policies. In fact, the Obama campaign feels the same way, and that is why, ironically, Obama himself may go on the attack in the coming 2012 campaign, hoping that swing voters will like him to the point where his going negative will not hurt Obama as much as it may other candidates. Of course, it makes sense for Obama to go negative to make up for his failed economic policies, to which Romney’s jobs plan was a direct response.
Romney’s plan was praised by the Club For Growth. The Wall Street Journal was lukewarm on his plan.
As always, Romney’s opponents, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, whose jobs plan was heralded as the most pro-growth jobs plan ever proposed by a presidential candidate and firmly endorsed by The Wall Stree Journal, and Perry, whose state has been heralded as a job creating machine, crititized Romney’s record of job creation in Massachusetts, which ranked 47th in the nation during Romney’s tenure.
If voters take Romney’s plan and candidacy at face value and look to the future instead of looking at his past record, Romney can frame himself as the candidate best able to manage the economy.
Romney has improved as a candidate in recent weeks since Perry has entered the race, and his campaign hopes these detailed policy proposals will make his candidacy stronger and allow Romney to emerge from the GOP primary with a message that can also appeal to independents in the general election. Further, to win the primary, Romney can use this proposal against Perry by saying that while Romney, along with Huntsman, has a specific set of proposals and ideas to get America’s economy on track going forward. Romney can press Perry on his plans, which his nascent campaign has understandably yet to release while getting his campaign off the ground. Perry’s record of job creation in Texas is a considerable strength. If Romney presses Perry on specifics, though, it would be interesting to see if voters choose a governor (Romney) who had a bad track record of creating jobs while he governed but has specific and concrete ideas to solve America’s economic crisis or a governor (Perry) who had a sterling record of job creation as governor but may speak more in generalties about reviving America’s economy.
With Perry in the race, Romney cannot coast to the nomination. He has to fight for it. His jobs proposal shows and lack of complaceny around his campaign during the past weeks show Team Romney knows they hafve to step it up another notch if they are to win the GOP nomination. They did so on Tuesday.
Below are the broad outlines of Romney’s plan, according to the campaign’s press release. The full plan can be seen here.
Five Bills for Day One
- The American Competitiveness Act: Reduces the corporate income tax rate to 25 percent
- The Open Markets Act: Implements the Colombia, Panama, and South Korea Free Trade Agreements
- The Domestic Energy Act: Directs the Department of the Interior to undertake a comprehensive survey of American energy reserves in partnership with exploration companies and initiates leasing in all areas currently approved for exploration
- The Retraining Reform Act: Consolidates the sprawl of federal retraining programs and returns funding and responsibility for these programs to the states
- The Down Payment on Fiscal Sanity Act: Immediately cuts non-security discretionary spending by 5 percent, reducing the annual federal budget by $20 billion
Five Executive Orders for Day One
- An Order to Pave the Way to End Obamacare: Directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services and all relevant federal officials to return the maximum possible authority to the states to innovate and design health care solutions that work best for them
- An Order to Cut Red Tape: Directs all agencies to immediately initiate the elimination of Obama-era regulations that unduly burden the economy or job creation, and then caps annual increases in regulatory costs at zero dollars
- An Order to Boost Domestic Energy Production: Directs the Department of the Interior to implement a process for rapid issuance of drilling permits to developers with established safety records seeking to use pre-approved techniques in pre-approved areas
- An Order to Sanction China for Unfair Trade Practices: Directs the Department of the Treasury to list China as a currency manipulator in its biannual report and directs the Department of Commerce to assess countervailing duties on Chinese imports if China does not quickly move to float its currency
- An order to Empower American Businesses and Workers: Reverses the executive orders issued by President Obama that tilt the playing field in favor of organized labor, including the one encouraging the use of union labor on major government construction projects
Mitt Romney will push for a fundamental redesign of our tax system. He recognizes the need to simplify the system. He also recognizes the need both to lower rates and to broaden the tax base so that taxation becomes an instrument for promoting economic growth. As president, Romney will hold the line on individual income tax rates and eliminate taxes on interest, dividends, and capital gains for low- and middle-income taxpayers. He will eliminate the estate tax. And he will pursue a conservative overhaul that applies lower and flatter rates to a broader tax base.
Romney will also reform the corporate tax system. He will immediately lower the corporate income tax rate, and then explore opportunities to further lower the marginal rate while broadening the tax base. He will also begin the process of transitioning to a territorial corporate tax system. A territorial system must be designed to encourage multinational companies to bring their profits back into the U.S. and it must avoid the creation of incentives for outsourcing.
Mitt Romney will act swiftly to tear down the vast edifice of regulations the Obama Administration has imposed on the economy. He will also seek to make structural changes to the federal bureaucracy that ensure economic growth remains front and center when regulatory decisions are made. As president, Romney will work to repeal laws like Obamacare and Dodd-Frank that have given bureaucrats unprecedented discretion to craft unpredictable, job-killing regulations by the thousands of pages.
Romney will also initiate the immediate review of all Obama-era regulations with the goal of eliminating any that unduly burden the economy and job creation. And he will impose a regulatory cap on all agencies at zero dollars, meaning that an agency issuing a new regulation must go through a budget-like process and identify offsetting cost reductions from the existing regulatory burden. Other initiatives in a Romney Administration will include a new, cost-conscious approach to environmental regulation; an increased role for Congress in the approval of new regulations; and reforms to the legal liability system.
Mitt Romney sees free trade as essential to restoring robust economic growth that creates jobs. The productivity and ingenuity of the American workforce are unparalleled—when American business and workers are able to compete on a level playing field, they have proved they can win. Romney will work to open foreign markets for American goods and services on terms that work for America. Specifically, Romney will submit pending Free Trade Agreements to Congress, conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, and seek Trade Promotion Authority to pursue new trading relationships. Romney will also create the “Reagan Economic Zone,” a multilateral trading bloc open to any country committed to the principles of open markets and free enterprise.
While continuing to open new frontiers, Romney will also ensure that existing trade agreements are enforced. Romney will seek to build a constructive relationship with China on the basis of mutual respect, while also making clear that the United States will no longer tolerate Chinese practices that unfairly benefit their economy at the expense of ours. As president, Romney will take unilateral action and also partner with other nations affected by China’s refusal to participate responsibly in the global economy.
Mitt Romney will pursue an energy policy that puts conservative principles into action: significant regulatory reform, support for increased production, and a government that focuses on funding basic research instead of chasing fads and picking winners. Romney will streamline federal regulation of energy exploration and development so that the government acts as a facilitator of those activities instead of as an obstacle to them. He will create one-stop shops and impose fixed timelines for standard permits and approvals, and he will accelerate the process for companies with established safety records seeking to employ approved practices in approved areas.
Under this robust and efficient regulatory framework, Romney will significantly expand the areas available for energy development—including in the Gulf of Mexico, the Outer Continental Shelf, Western lands, and Alaska. He will also strengthen partnerships with Canada and Mexico to expand opportunities for American companies in the development of those nations’ resources. And he will encourage continued development of unconventional reserves like shale gas and oil that hold enormous promise for expanding the base of U.S. reserves.
Mitt Romney will protect the worker rights and employer flexibility crucial to innovation, economic growth, and job creation. As president, Romney’s first step in improving labor policy will be to ensure that our labor laws create a stable and level playing field on which businesses can operate. This means he will appoint to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) experienced individuals with a respect for the law and an even-handed approach to labor relations. Rather than seek to impose his own vision for the future of labor law via executive fiat and bureaucratic subterfuge, Romney will take the conservative approach and work with Congress to amend the outdated portions of the existing statutory framework, setting it on a stronger footing appropriate to contemporary conditions.
Specifically, Romney will seek amendments to the National Labor Relations Act that protect free enterprise, free choice, and free speech. The Act must be amended to ensure that it does not allow the NLRB to constrain companies in their investment decisions, as the NLRB is attempting to do in the Boeing case. It must also be amended to guarantee workers the right to receive full information about the pros and cons of unionization and then express their own preference in the privacy of the voting booth. And it must put an end to the undemocratic practice of allowing unions to deduct money directly from worker paychecks and spend it on political causes with which the workers may disagree.
Human Capital Policy
Mitt Romney sees two important objectives that America can pursue immediately to build on the extraordinary traditional strengths of its workforce. The first is to retrain American workers to ensure that they have the education and skills to match the jobs of today’s economy. The second is to attract the best and brightest from around the world. As president, Romney will focus retraining efforts on a partnership that brings together the states and the private sector. He will consolidate federal programs and then block grant major funding streams to states. Federal policy will be structured to encourage the use of Personal Reemployment Accounts that empower workers to put retraining funds to efficient use and that encourage employers to provide on-the-job training.
Romney will also press for an immigration policy that maximizes America’s economic potential. The United States needs to attract and retain job creators from wherever they come. Romney will raise the ceiling on the number of visas issued to holders of advanced degrees in math, science, and engineering who have job offers in those fields from U.S. companies. Romney will also work to establish a policy that staples a green card to the diploma of every eligible student visa holder who graduates from an American university with an advanced degree in math, science, or engineering.
The only recipe for fiscal health and a thriving private economy is a government that spends within its means. Mitt Romney will immediately move to cut spending and cap it at 20 percent of GDP. As spending comes under control, he will pursue further cuts that would allow caps to be set even lower so as to guarantee future fiscal stability. As a first step in this direction, Romney will move immediately to cut non-security discretionary spending by 5 percent.
But more will be required to bring the budget under control. Romney will also work to reform Medicaid, converting it to a federal block grant administered by the states, and he will provide the leadership necessary to make progress in reforming other entitlement programs. He will undertake a fundamental restructuring of the federal government that places the burden on the federal agency to establish why a program or service must be provided at the federal level and gives to the private sector and the states whatever functions they can perform more effectively. Finally, he will pursue a Balanced Budget Amendment to ensure that the out-of-control borrowing and spending of the Obama Administration is never repeated.