By Elizabeth Crum, Nevada News Bureau: Gov. Mitt Romney on Tuesday presented a detailed economic plan he said would generate 11.5 million new jobs, lead to 4 percent annual growth, and turn America into a “job machine.”
Romney made a point of saying he would be speaking without a teleprompter before addressing a crowd of over 300 at McCandless International Trucks in North Las Vegas, a city struggling due to high unemployment rates and municipal budget troubles.
The Romney campaign claimed his plan would reduce the national unemployment rate to 5.9 percent by the end of his first term. Currently, the jobless rate is 9.1 percent nationally and 12.9 percent in Nevada.
The Republican presidential hopeful offered up a 160-page “business plan for the American economy” that would, among other things, cut discretionary spending by 5 percent, cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent, and eliminate taxes on interest and capital gains taxes for people earning $200,000 or less annually.
Romney also on Tuesday announced his economic policy team. Its leader will be R. Glenn Hubbard, the dean of the Columbia Business School, who wrote the foreword to Romney’s economic policy booklet.
Romney offered up his ideas two days before President Obama is scheduled to address a joint session of Congress regarding jobs and the economy.
Holding up his iPhone to illustrate a point, Romney said the president “doesn’t have a clue” how to improve the economy and compared Obama’s strategy to shoving quarters into a disconnected pay phone.
“President Obama’s strategy is a pay phone strategy, and we’re in a smartphone world,” Romney said.
Romney did not mention any of his GOP rivals by name, but repeatedly emphasized his own private-sector and business background as a venture capitalist to draw contrasts between himself and other White House contenders including Obama.
“He’s not a bad guy,” Romney said of the president. “He just doesn’t know how the economy works.”
The speech came as Romney fights to regain his front-runner status, lost to Texas Gov. Rick Perry who now leads in most national polls after jumping into the fray last month.
Perry’s campaign was quick to criticize Romney’s speech, with press secretary Mark Miner saying in a statement, “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.”
“Among all the candidates for President, Gov. Rick Perry has the strongest record of creating a climate of job creation by limiting taxes, burdensome regulations and the size and scope of government,” added Miner. “Gov. Perry’s conservative leadership helped Texans create 40 percent of all the net new jobs created in America since June 2009.”
Standing under a large banner reading “Job One, Day One,” Romney said that on the first day of his presidency, he would sign five executive orders: granting states a waiver from the 2010 health care legislation in order to give them “maximum authority” to design their own programs; instructing government agencies to eliminate regulations he says are slowing job creation; streamlining procedures for oil drilling permits; sanctioning China for its unfair trade practices and currency-meddling; and reversing union-friendly executive orders signed by Obama.
Channeling the iconic spirit of Ronald Reagan, Romney referred to America as “a shining city on a hill and the hope of the world.” He also called for a “Reagan Economic Zone” comprised of countries “that want to trade on a fair and free basis.”
Romney used China as an example of a nation that does not play fair, saying China steals American technology and deliberately keeps their currency low which hurts American manufacturing enterprises by keeping their products cheap.
“I don’t want a trade war, but I don’t want a trade surrender either,” Romney said.
While Romney expressed an interest in clean energy programs and promoting green jobs, he said traditional energy sources must play the larger role for the time being.
“We’re an energy-rich nation. But we’re living like an energy-poor nation,” Romney said, citing regulatory barriers and burdens to oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear facilities.
Democrats offered a prebuttal in advance of the Romney event. State Sen. Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, had strong words for the presidential candidate.
“I welcome Governor Romney to Nevada. I am glad he is here to talk about his ideas,” said Horsford. “But I would ask him to talk to those who will be impacted negatively by his proposals, not just the corporations that will benefit from them.”
“We don’t have a lot of millionaires and billionaires in this district. We don’t have a lot of owners of private jets or folks who make million dollar contributions to support campaigns. We are hard working Americans who quite honestly don’t appreciate Governor Romney coming here and using our hardships as a photo-op for his campaign,” added Horsford.
Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, also spoke, criticizing what he called Romney’s “Tea Party vetted” ideas.