“The right answer for America is not to grow government or to believe that government can create jobs. It is instead to create the conditions that allow the private sector and entrepreneurs to create jobs and to grow our economy. Growth is the answer, not government,” Romney said as he released the plan, called “Believe in America.”
That may be a questionable concept at a time when businesses are seeing record profits but have not put them into the kind of hiring and investment that could start a national economic recovery. At the same time, though, polls show that voters are losing faith in the Obama administration and its embrace of government as a solution to many of the country’s problems.
So in many ways, the terms of engagement between the president and Romney, as well as the rest of the Republican field, are set. “The politics of contrast are pretty simple here,” conservative economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin said.
Channeling the management consultant he used to be, Romney presented the outlines of a 59-point plan, published in a 160-page book. His aides boasted that it is the most specific proposal any presidential candidate has offered.
Romney spoke without a prepared text under a banner that read, “Day One, Job One,” inside a sweltering North Las Vegas truck warehouse. He laid out 10 actions he said he would take on his first day in the Oval Office that would create more certainty for businesses.
They include five measures that would: lower the corporate tax rate to 25 percent from 35 percent; implement free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea; expand domestic energy exploration; consolidate worker retraining programs and turn them over to the states; and cut non-security discretionary spending by 5 percent. (President Obama supports those three trade agreements, although he has been accused of dithering to satisfy the demands of organized labor.)
If elected, the former Massachusetts governor said he would issue five executive orders on Inauguration Day. They would roll back Obama’s health-care overhaul; eliminate Obama-era regulations; issue new oil-drilling permits; reverse a number of policies that favor organized labor; and sanction China for currency manipulation.
“I’ll clamp down on the cheaters, and China’s the worst example of that,” Romney said. “We can’t have a trade war. But we can’t have a trade surrender, either.”
He said he would cut the size of the federal workforce by 10 percent through attrition, possibly by hiring only one employee for every two who leave.