In this diary, I will present a walking tour through “Believe in American – Mitt Romney’s Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth.” I hope it’s relatively painless. If you’ve been thinking you should have read the Romney plan by now and wondering what’s really in it given the sometimes conflicting claims, but just haven’t had the time or stomach to do it, this is for you.
Actually, tackling his document on your own is somewhat easier than you may have thought. Although you’ve probably heard it described as 159 pages, Adobe counts the pdf version at 87 pages, owing mainly to the smaller than 8.5 x 11” format of the original. So, for those who do have the time and inclination, or those like me who simply have to see it to believe it, here’s the link to the Romney plan (pdf).
Before I start, I need to note a couple of general things about budgets:
1. Almost invariably, budgets have numbers, you know, estimated amounts of revenue and expense. Romney’s document does not. Hence, rather than a budget, Romney’s document is more like a rambling philosophical treatise. At most, it’s a set of some of the policies he advocates. (In contrast, Paul Ryan seems to have turned over his own philosophical treatise and policy recommendations to the Congressional Budget Office for conversion to into a very short approximation of what an actual budget might look like if his proposals were all accepted by both houses of Congress, but Ryan’s plan is not the topic of this diary.)
2. The hardest part of “balancing” a budget for an entity like a government is estimating the correct amount of revenue that will be collected. Expenses can be more-or-less calculated based on quotes provided by suppliers and decisions that can be made about how much money to spend and how to spend it. Revenue, on the other hand, depends on variable factors such as the number of people who will be working and paying taxes at a given rate, i.e., unknowns. In such cases, a useful budget should include not only the dollar amounts estimated for the future period, but also a side-by-side comparison to the actual amounts recorded in the most recent previous period. Deviations should be explained. Without this, virtually any budget can be made to “balance” merely by adjusting the revenue projections. Mitt Romney has promised to create 12 million new jobs. I hope someone will pin him down with questions about how much estimated tax revenue is associated with all these hypothetical new workers and what will happen to the expense side of his budget if these jobs fail to appear.
And, a couple of general things about the document:
1. The copyright notice
Copyright © 2011 Romney for President, Inc. All rights reserved. Brief excerpts or quotations from this publication accompanied by proper acknowledgement may be used in blog posts, news reports, articles, or reviews. Permission to reprint or post longer sections or entire chapters must be obtained in writing from Romney for President, Inc.
I will respect that restriction, in accordance with my understanding of fair use, so as not to cause any financial damage to Mr. Romney or his publisher, to the extent that such damage is possible in that document that is available for free online.
No attempt was made to disguise the fact that almost none of Mitt Romney’s plan was written by Mitt Romney which might explain why he sounds so vague when asked about it. Note that the title itself is expressed in the third person as is almost all the text . The author of the majority of the text is, at least to me, unknown.
In fact, the tiny amount (nine paragraphs) of writing by Mr. Romney included in his plan (beyond the almost 4-page “Introduction/ letter” in which Mr. Romney recaps his own “success” and President Obama’s “failure”), is actually excerpted from his book published last year, No Apology, The Case for American Greatness, still available at Amazon, list price $15.99, now discounted to $6.40 or free for Kindle.
On the other hand, the various segments of the plan include sidebars contributed by other conservatives who are identified. Generally, their contributions are a little bit campaign speech, a little bit sermonette. These contributors include: Scott McNealy, founder and former CEO of Sun Microsystems; Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, Inc., which operates the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. restaurant brands; Dave Heineman, governor of Nebraska; Jim Talent, former U.S. Senator from Missouri; Peter Schaumber, former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board; Jim Risch, U.S. Senator from Idaho; and, of course, Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay, and in 2010, the Republican nominee for governor of California. Even if you decide to read the document for yourself, I’d say you could comfortably skip those.
Finally, take a look at the tour map while you’re slipping into your walking shoes:
The Table of Contents
02 Introduction: Letter from Mitt Romney
06 Day One, Job One
09 Part I: America in Economic Crisis
21 Part II: President Obama’s Failure
31 Part III: Mitt Romney’s Plan
37 Tax Policy
53 Regulatory Policy
69 Trade Policy
85 Energy Policy
101 Labor Policy
119 Human Capital Policy
135 Fiscal Policy
You may feel you already know what Mitt Romney (or his surrogate on his behalf) would say about each of the segments named in the TOC. If you want to know a little more about what has been committed to writing in Mitt’s name regarding how he would save our country, head down below the fold for more including some quotes and some comments.