Romney Lays Out Job Creation Proposal

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GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivered a jobs speech in Nevada Tuesday.


ROBERT SIEGEL, host: And I'm Robert Siegel. It is the season for jobs plans. President Obama will outline his proposal to boost hiring on Thursday. Republican presidential candidate and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman released his plan last week. And today, it was Mitt Romney's turn. The GOP presidential hopeful released what he called a practical business plan to turn the slumping U.S. economy around. NPR's Scott Horsley tells us what's in it.

SCOTT HORSLEY: Mitt Romney has staked his campaign on his skills as a business turnaround specialist. Unlike career politicians who've never met a payroll, he wrote in USA Today: I know why jobs come and go. Speaking at a commercial truck dealership outside Las Vegas today, Romney said he'd put those turnaround skills to work for the U.S. economy if he gets the job in the White House.

MITT ROMNEY: I don't have all the answers to all the problems that exist in America and around the world, but I know how to find the answers. And I also know how to lead. I was in the business world for 25 years.


HORSLEY: Romney is counting on that business background to set him apart from rivals in the GOP race. But while the man once described as Mr. PowerPoint includes some 59 bullet points in his jobs plan, there's little that's new in the Romney proposal. Instead, it's a kind of greatest hits package drawn from the Republican hymnal, stressing lower taxes, increased production of domestic oil, gas and coal and a rollback of government red tape.

ROMNEY: And if I'm in the White House, the first thing I'm going to do on day one is say all those regulations that were put in place by President Obama, I'm going to stop in their tracks.


HORSLEY: That includes the president's health care reform, which was largely modeled on the plan Romney pioneered as governor of Massachusetts. Romney also stressed the need to boost exports and expand free trade zones. And he promised a hard line against China's trading practices, threatening to brand that country a currency manipulator.

ROMNEY: I certainly don't want to trade war with anybody. We're not going to have a trade war, but we can't have a trade surrender either.

HORSLEY: The former U.S. ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, is also seeking the GOP nomination for president, and the jobs plan he released last week is virtually identical to Romney's. This week, Huntsman's campaign put out a new web video, noting that Utah led the nation in job growth when Huntsman was governor there, while Massachusetts under then-Governor Romney ranked third from the bottom among U.S. states.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Who can we trust to create jobs when Obama has failed? Number one or number 47?

HORSLEY: Romney devoted little attention to his Republican rivals today, focusing instead on President Obama. He offered some advance criticism of Mr. Obama's upcoming jobs speech, calling any attempt at additional government spending to stimulate the economy an outdated strategy.

ROMNEY: What he's doing is taking quarters and stuffing them into the pay phone and thinking - can't figure out why it's not working. It's not connected anymore, Mr. President.


ROMNEY: All right? Your pay phone strategy does not work in a Smartphone world.


HORSLEY: Romney's plan does give a nod to improving worker training programs, but his general premise is that government has little role to play in fostering job growth. And he suggests the best thing Washington can do to help business is get out of the way.

ROMNEY: The right answer for America is not to grow government or to believe that government can create jobs. It is instead to create the conditions that allow the private sector and entrepreneurs to create jobs, create jobs, and to grow our economy. Growth is the answer, not government.


HORSLEY: Romney also introduced a new economic policy team today. It includes two former lawmakers, Jim Talent and Vin Weber; and two university economists, Glenn Hubbard and Greg Mankiw. Hubbard and Mankiw were key advisors in the George W. Bush White House. But Mankiw has been known to break with today's Republican orthodoxy, for instance, by supporting a higher tax on gasoline.

An admiring note on Mankiw's blog this week from a former student-turned-British Labour leader notes the Harvard professor even used to have a dog named Keynes. Scott Horsley, NPR news, Washington.

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