In a speech at the Detroit Economic Club. Here are the highlights:
MAKING THE 2001 AND 2003 TAX CUTS PERMANENT: "Which course is better for America? A European model of high taxes and regulations? Or, low taxes and free trade - the Ronald Reagan model? That's the choice the next President will make. Some are already fighting to implement a massive tax increase. Instead, we should make the tax cuts permanent."
REFORMING THE TAX CODE: "However, making the tax cuts permanent is only the first step. We also need reform of the tax code that moves towards a tax system that encourages growth, fairness, and simplicity."
TAX FREE SAVINGS: Governor Romney Proposes Allowing People To Save Tax Free. "It is time to make saving easy in America. I believe people should be allowed to earn interest, dividends and capital gains up to a certain amount a year, tax free and without restrictions on how or when their savings and investments are spent. As an example, let's say we chose $5,000 for joint filers as the annual tax free figure for dividends, interest and capital gains. This would help middle class families to be able to save and to invest - and spend their savings the American way: any way they want."
FISCAL DISCIPLINE: Unless Given The Line-Item Veto, Governor Romney Would Veto Any Appropriations Bills If They Exceed Spending Targets. "I have a fairly simple idea for keeping spending in check. Give Congress a spending target and then insist that it is met. If Congress does not meet the spending targets, then its appropriations bills should be vetoed. I regularly exercised my veto power while governor. The alternative is for the Congress to vest the President with a power held in some form by 43 governors, including this Governor - the line-item veto."
REGULATORY RELIEF: Governor Romney Would Reinstitute A Regulatory Relief Board To Cut Back Regulations That Choke Off Growth. "Our regulatory burden is also overbearing. I'd re-institute a regulatory relief board to cut back the regulation weeds that choke off growth. One that deserves pruning is Sarbanes Oxley - it's driving away IPO's, depressing jobs, and requiring billions of unnecessary cost. Executives who violate the law should go to jail, but the entire economy shouldn't have pay an inordinate price for the sins of the few bad actors."
NATIONAL TORT REFORM: Governor Romney Believes America Needs National Tort Reform, Not Reform State-By-State. "Another burden on our economic future is our out-of-control tort system. Last year, U.S. corporations spent more money on tort claims than they did on R&D. If innovation is the key to our long term leadership, then some tort lawyers are cashing out our country's future. I spoke with one member of the plaintiff's bar the other day. He said that the tort lawyers are ok with state reform, but not national reform. You know what state level tort reform means - it means that as long as there is one lawsuit-friendly state, they can sue almost any major, deep-pocketed company in America. No thanks, America needs national tort reform."
FUEL EFFICIENCY: Governor Romney Would Evaluate Reforms To CAFE Standards To Develop A Better Way To Get Higher Fleet Mileage Without Market Distortions. "What does this mean for Detroit? Well, it means that the automotive fleet will have to become more fuel efficient. CAFE improved mileage initially, but the consumer has gotten around it over the last couple of decades. CAFE has some real problems. It distorts the market. It penalizes the domestic automakers. It can ignore technical realities. So before I would change the CAFE standards, I want to sit down with every major knowledgeable party and evaluate each of the alternatives. A good number have been proposed; let's decide which is the best course by looking at the data and analysis, rather than by playing to the TV cameras Let's not forget that a far more fuel efficient fleet must be part of our energy future. The issue is which is the least distorting way to achieve it."
This is a strong economic plan, designed to maximize appeal to fiscal conservatives. Let's leave aside for the moment that a lot of this has been proposed before, but has been blocked by Democrats. It still contains many good ideas.
Pat Toomey of Club for Growth had this to say:
The Club’s President, Pat Toomey, highlighted Governor Romney’s call for permanent tax cuts, tax reform, spending discipline, regulatory relief starting with the reform of Sarbanes-Oxley, and tort reform as “solidly pro-growth.”
“Governor Romney outlined today an economic platform that is, generally speaking, very pro-growth despite the surprising limit he suggests for tax-free savings,” Toomey said. “As the governor develops the specifics of his economic policies, we hope he will boldly build upon the limited government, free-market policies he discussed today.”
“The other presidential candidates should follow Governor Romney’s lead and propose similar, if not more extensive, measures to protect American taxpayers and promote continued economic expansion.”
The last point brings to mind a potential benefit of starting the campaign earlier than ever: it gives the candidates months and months to compete on who can deliver a better economic plan. If Giuliani and McCain have to come up with plans that are as good or better than this, then we all benefit.