Details of Romney's Economic and Jobs Plan Keep Evolving
April 30, 2012 (USA TODAY) Surrogates for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney frequently point to a 59-point economic plan released last year in response to criticisms that the campaign has been short on specific proposals.
However, some of Romney's economic policies have changed since the document -- titled "Believe in America: Mitt Romney's Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth" -- was released in September. The plan itself has not been updated.
Former Maryland governor Bob Ehrlich referenced the detailed plan last week during an appearance on MSNBC. Earlier this month, on a conference call with reporters, former Missouri senator Jim Talent, a Romney adviser, highlighted the written plan and said Romney had been mocked when he released it "because they said it was too detailed."
But the details have changed.
In the original document, Romney wrote that "low marginal tax rates" should be maintained and that corporate tax rates should come down from 35% to 25%. In February, Romney announced a new tax plan calling for a 20% reduction of the marginal rates for all brackets and the abolition of the Alternative Minimum Tax.
Romney recently added his support for keeping a 3.4% interest rate on federal student loans rather than let the rate double as scheduled. He did not address the issue in his original plan.
The plan also calls for passage of several trade agreements that President Obama has since signed into law.
A Romney economic adviser, who requested anonymity to speak freely about the plan, said the document was never intended to be set in stone and specifically stipulated several areas where "more work needed to be done."
"It's absolutely intended to be a starting point," the adviser said.
The adviser did not say when Romney would release additional policy proposals, saying the campaign is just starting to map out the broad range of policies that will be released over the course of the year.
One change already evident is the campaign's new focus on the economic prospects of women.
Over the past several weeks, Romney has emphasized that women have suffered the lion's share of the job losses since Obama has been president, but the September document makes no mention of these jobs.
In fact, the word "women" appears twice in the 160-page document, in an essay by Meg Whitman, the former chief executive officer of eBay and now president of Hewlett-Packard.
Doug Holtz-Eakin, a Republican economist, predicted that the plan would continue to change and adjust from now until the election.
Mike Franc, vice president of government studies at the Heritage Foundation, a think tank, agreed, adding that the original document represents the careful work of the early campaign. "It's going to evolve," Franc said. "You don't want someone to be rigid the whole campaign."
He said the issue to watch is whether Romney changed direction on any of the policies outlined in the plan.
Will McBride, an economist at the Tax Foundation, said other presidential candidates have changed their plans and included more specifics as time went on, but it is unclear how much the Romney plan will change as the campaign wears on.
"Thus far, Romney's tax plans have been on the timid side, and it remains to be seen if he will move more towards fundamental reform or continue tinkering around the edges of the tax code," McBride said.