While the media remains transfixed with the Herman Cain debacle and the chances of a supercommittee debt-reduction deal seem to be low, Mitt Romney’s campaign announces that he will “discuss fiscal policy [Thursday] in Exeter, New Hampshire. Romney will then deliver a fiscal policy speech on Friday to Americans for Prosperity’s ‘Defending the American Dream Summit’ ” in Washington.
The campaign has been mum about any details regarding these appearances, but I’m told Romney will offer some new material, not merely a recap of past proposals. This, I would suggest, is an opportunity to present a more concrete and bold vision on reducing the debt, including more detail on entitlement reform.
Congress seems to be stuck. Texas Gov. Rick Perry largely ducked behind sweeping generalizations ( “balance the budget,” but how?) while Herman Cain has offered virtually nothing but his 9-9-9 and a Chilean retirement plan. Now, as Republicans head into the first contests of the presidential primary, would seem to be an ideal time for Romney to deflect criticisms of insufficient boldness or the lack of a concrete plan to pull us back from fiscal calamity.
Certainly, his opponents will be firing at him with all of the now-familiar objections, especially their distaste for RomneyCare. Rather than keep his head down (as tempting as it may be while his opponents rival one another for the most gaffes per week), he would be wise to keep control of the narrative. He can do that by offering more details and demonstrating that his reform ideas reflect conservative values and his own private-sector experience.
It might seem counterintuitive to go out with a meaty policy speech while his principal rival in the polls is struggling. But there would be no better way to highlight the difference between his campaign and his not-ready-for-prime-time opposition.
It’s possible Romney may simply rearrange the pieces of his previously presented proposals on Thursday. But that would be a missed opportunity, indicative of someone trying not to lose rather than someone trying to win. In this case, a more vibrant fiscal reform plan would be both good policy and good politics.