Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney talks about his plan for creating… (Julie Jacobson, Associated…)
Facing new trouble in his quest for the Republican presidential nomination, Mitt Romney released a detailed plan Tuesday to revive the nation's stumbling economy, proposing tax cuts and rollbacks in environmental, health and banking rules.
Romney's 59-point agenda came two days before President Obama plans to unveil his own proposals to combat the nation's stubbornly high joblessness, a pivotal step in his reelection campaign.
Speaking to invited guests at a truck dealership in North Las Vegas, Romney said Obama "just doesn't have a clue what to do" to revive the economy. The former Massachusetts governor described Obama's ideas as outdated.
"Your pay-phone strategy does not work in a smartphone world," Romney said.
Romney, former chief executive of the Bain Capital investment firm, brandished a blue paperback copy of his plan, "Believe in America." "This is the product of somebody who spent his life in the private sector," he told the crowd.
Romney put out his plan amid a raft of new polls that show he has lost his presumptive Republican front-runner status in recent days to Texas Gov. Rick Perry. A debate of the party's White House contenders on Wednesday at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley is supposed to be the first to include Perry, if wildfires in Texas don't keep him from attending.
The growing rivalry between Perry and the field's former front-runner was on display Tuesday with Romney's pointed reference to his own business background — Perry has spent decades in government — and as the Texas governor's campaign denounced Romney's jobs plan.
"As governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney failed to create a pro-jobs environment and failed to institute many of the reforms he now claims to support," Perry spokesman Mark Miner said in a statement.
Romney's 160-page plan fit mainstream conservative doctrine. He called for cutting the corporate income tax rate from 35% to 25%, eliminating the estate tax and extending personal income tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush. He proposed a 10% cut in the federal workforce and a $200-billion-per-year reduction in the Medicaid healthcare program for the poor. Romney would convert Medicaid into a block grant for states.
Romney's plan included a harsh critique of Obama's economic record that in some cases ignored steps by Obama that have disappointed Democrats. Romney slammed the president for his "costly and ineffective anti-carbon agenda" despite criticism by former Vice President Al Gore and others that Obama had failed to show leadership in fighting global warming.
Ben LaBolt, an Obama campaign spokesman, said Romney's plan "would tip the scales against hardworking Americans."
Romney "repackaged the same old policies that helped create the economic crisis: boosting oil company profits and allowing Wall Street to write its own rules, more tax breaks for large corporations and more tax cuts for the wealthiest while working Americans are forced to carry a greater burden," he said.
Romney's plan was also denounced by the campaign of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., a Republican presidential contender who released similar proposals last week.
Americans "should hope that Gov. Romney's plan builds on exactly the opposite of what he did in Massachusetts, where he raised corporate fees and taxes and passed a government healthcare plan that includes mandates and fines on small businesses and job creators," said Matt David, Huntsman's campaign manager.