Republican presidential candidate and former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney laid out a detailed economic plan aimed at increasing economic growth and reducing unemployment. The announcement comes prior to President Obama's address to Congress on Thursday in which he will lay out his own jobs plan.
Romney's jobs plan also coincides with the announcement that economists R. Glenn Hubbard, professor of finance and economics at Columbia Business School, and Greg Mankiw, professor of economics at Harvard, have joined his campaign to advise him on economic policy. Hubbard and Mankiw both worked in the George W. Bush administration and are considered two of the most important thinkers among conservative economists.
The document, called “Believe in America: Mitt Romney's Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth,” contains 59 policy proposals in all.
These proposals include:
- Keeping the Bush era tax cuts.
- Eliminating taxes on capital gains, dividends, and interest for any taxpayer with an adjusted gross income of less that $200,000.
- Eliminating that estate tax, or “death tax,” on inheritances
- Lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent.
- Repealing “Obamacare” and Dodd-Frank.
- Reducing regulations on businesses.
- Implementing pending trade agreements.
- Imposing tariffs or economic sanctions against Chinese companies that violate free-trade agreements or patent laws.
- Increasing domestic energy production.
- Raising the VISA cap on immigrants with advanced degrees in math, science and engineering.
- Granting permanent residency status to immigrants who obtain an advanced degree in math, science and engineering in the United States.
- Implementing the “Cut, Cap and Balance” plan passed by the House of Representatives.
The document also contains essays by Scott McNealy, founder and former CEO of Sun Microsystems, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman, Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.), Peter Schaumber, former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board, Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay and the Republican nominee for governor of California in 2010, Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), and Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, Inc.
McNealy defends Romney's contention that “corporations are people.” “A corporation, after all, is nothing more than people who have joined together to work cooperatively. The word 'corporation' itself means 'body of people,'” McNealy writes.
Romney frequently tells voters in debates and stump speeches, “I have a plan.” This economic plan, together with the announcement that Hubbard and Mankiw have joined his brain trust, helps Romney reinforce that message. He clearly wants to establish his competency and readiness to lead, especially on economic matters, in the minds of voters.
One of the frequent criticisms that Republicans, and a few Democrats, have of Obama is that he lays out plans in speeches without providing specific details. Romney's 160-page document is likely intended to present a contrast to Obama's more hands-off approach to governing.
The timing of Romney's speech is likely no accident either. He presented his plan on jobs and the economy just two days before Obama is set to give a speech before Congress outlining his own plan.
Romney's comfort level dealing with economic matters was also on display in Monday's Palmetto Freedom Forum. He showed that he was knowledgeable about a number of pieces of legislation dealing with the economy, and he was able to make complicated economic issues accessible to a broad audience.
However, Romney's weaknesses were also apparent when he was asked questions about abortion and marriage. Though he is pro-life and opposed to same-sex marriage, Romney seemed unwilling to speak forcefully on these issues and upset the status quo. He said, for instance, that he would be unwilling to support the idea that the Constitution gives Congress the authority to protect life, including a life in the womb, because it may lead to a "constitutional crisis."
After the Palmetto Freedom Forum, Dr. Robert P. George, McCormick professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University and one of the panelists, said that economic and social conservatism are based upon the same principles. Lack of employment, for instance, can be caused by a breakdown in strong families as much as an over-burdensome government.
There was no acknowledgment of the linkage between economic and social conservatism, however, in Romney's document. Plus, while the additional essays featured several CEOs, no prominent social conservatives were featured.
Romney's plan, therefore, does nothing to address his weakness in reaching out to the social conservative wing of the Republican Party.
Romney will have another opportunity to do that Wednesday night. He will appear at the next Republican presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, hosted by MSNBC and simulcast at 8 p.m. EST.