I know I gave major props to Mitt Romney in an earlier post about “job creation” and the silly season. An editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal has me rethinking that praise:
Mitt Romney rolled out a major chunk of his economic agenda yesterday, and we’ll say this for it: His ideas are better than President Obama’s. Yet the 160 pages and 59 proposals also strike us as surprisingly timid and tactical considering our economic predicament. They’re a technocrat’s guide more than a reform manifesto.
Ouch. And there’s more:
Where the Governor is less persuasive is on the larger issues of taxes, spending, entitlements and trade. Here he ducks and covers more than he needs to.
On taxes, Mr. Romney would immediately cut the top corporate income-tax rate to 25% from 35%. His advisers say there’s already a bipartisan consensus that the U.S. rate hurts American companies, and they’re right. Even Mr. Obama agrees.
But on other taxes, Mr. Romney shrinks from a fight. He says he favors tax reform with lower individual tax rates but only “in the long run.” His advisers say that means in the first two years of his Presidency, but then why not sketch out more details?
The answer may lie in his proposal to eliminate the capital gains tax—but only for those who earn less than $200,000 a year. This eviscerates most of the tax cut’s economic impact and also suggests that he’s afraid of Mr. Obama’s class warfare rhetoric. He even picked Mr. Obama’s trademark income threshold for the capital gains cut-off.
If Mr. Romney thinks this will let him dodge a class warfare debate, he’s fooling himself. Democrats will hit him anyway for opposing Mr. Obama’s proposal to raise taxes on higher incomes, dividends and capital gains in 2013. Perhaps Mr. Romney feels that his wealth and background make him especially vulnerable to the class charge, but if he won’t openly make the economic case for lower tax rates he’ll never get Congress to go along.
Take the fight to the class warfare demagogues, Mitt. There are A LOT of mom-and-pop diners and hardware stores that make $200,000 a year with owners who DO NOT live like kings. Conservatism and the free market are NOT about punishing people for working hard and accumulating wealth. The GOP needs to clearly identify itself as the group that wants to remove the bureaucratic yoke and unleash the full power of people’s sweat equity.
Let people work as hard as they can (or want to) and reap the rewards of that work without being punished by BIG BROTHER. Don’t play Barry-O’s game. You guys got an incredible mandate in 2010 to sock it to Barry-O and his team. Now, stop tip-toeing around and get to it.
The last line of the Journal op-ed really socks it to Romney — identifying the biggest obstacle blocking his move into 1600 Penn:
The biggest rap on Mr. Romney as a potential President is that it’s hard to discern any core beliefs beyond faith in his own managerial expertise. For all of its good points, yesterday’s policy potpourri won’t change that perception.
I think it was President Mike Dukakis who once said: “It’s not about ideology, it’s about competence.”