Barack Obama has had his turn at fixing the American economy. Millions of unemployed Americans can judge by their own experiences what he has done and failed to do.
For my part, I believe America can do better. I have spent most of my career in the private sector starting new businesses and turning around ailing ones. Unlike career politicians who've never met a payroll, I know why jobs come and go.
Today, I'm introducing a plan consisting of 59 specific proposals — including 10 concrete actions I will take on my first day in office — to turn around America's economy. Each proposal is rooted in the conservative premise that government itself cannot create jobs. At best, government can provide a framework in which economic growth can occur. All too often, however, government gets in the way. The past three years of unparalleled government expansion have retaught that lesson all too well.
Only the individual initiative of entrepreneurs, workers, investors and inventors enables companies, and our economy as a whole, to flourish. We must once again unleash the tremendous economic potential of the American people. The contrast between what the Obama administration has done and what I would do as president could not be starker.
First, President Obama has raised or threatened to raise taxes on both individuals and businesses. I would press hard in the opposite direction. Marginal income tax rates and tax rates on savings and investment must be kept low. Further, taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains for middle-income taxpayers should be eliminated. Our corporate tax rate is among the world's highest. It leaves U.S. firms at a competitive disadvantage and induces them to park their profits abroad, benefiting the rest of the world at our expense. I will fix these problems with permanent solutions. Ultimately, I will press for a total overhaul of our overly complex and inefficient system of taxation.
With scant regard for the costs imposed on consumers and businesses, President Obama has vastly expanded the regulatory reach of government. The federal government has estimated the price tag for its regulations at $1.75 trillion. I will pare back regulation, including eliminating "ObamaCare." I will direct every government agency to limit annual increases in regulatory costs to zero. The impact of any proposed new regulation must be offset by removing another regulation of equivalent cost. Every one of President Obama's regulations must be scrutinized, and those that unduly burden job creation must be axed.
Where President Obama left America's trade interests untended, I recognize the job-creating potential of international commerce. I will create the "Reagan Economic Zone," a partnership among countries committed to free enterprise and free trade. It will serve as a powerful engine for opening markets to our goods and services, and also a mechanism for confronting nations like China that violate trade rules while free-riding on the international system. I will not stand by while China pursues an economic development policy that relies on the unfair treatment of U.S. companies and the theft of their intellectual property. I have no interest in starting a trade war with China, but I cannot accept our current trade surrender.
The Obama administration has severely restricted domestic energy production. I will ensure we utilize to the fullest extent our nation's nuclear know-how and immense reserves in oil, gas and coal. By rationalizing and streamlining regulation, we will harness these resources everywhere it can be done safely, taking into account local concerns. A huge number of jobs is at stake. So, too, is the price of energy, which strongly influences economic growth. We are an energy-rich country that, thanks to environmental extremism, has chosen to live like an energy-poor country. That has to end.
Seeking to pay back political favors, President Obama has catered to the institutional interests of union bosses at the expense of both workers and businesses. I will fight against measures that deprive workers of basic rights, such as the secret ballot. And I will not tolerate federal intrusions of the kind that the National Labor Relations Board initiated when it filed suit against Boeing for opening a plant in a right-to-work state.
We also need a rational system for worker retraining, instead of the existing 47 separate programs run by nine federal agencies. America can have the world's most competitive workforce, and under my leadership, we will.
Finally, President Obama has engaged in a massive spending binge of choice. He threw dollars at every problem he encountered, running up the national debt and accomplishing worse than nothing in exchange. I will restore fiscal discipline by cutting the federal budget and placing an ironclad cap on spending. I will also press for a Constitutional amendment to balance the budget. Tellingly, while the private sector shed 1.8 million jobs since Barack Obama took office, the federal workforce grew by 142,500, or almost 7%. A rollback is urgently required.
As this catalogue of differences makes clear, our country has arrived at a fork in the road. In one direction lies the heavy hand of the state, indebtedness and decline. In the other direction lies limited government, free enterprise and economic growth. I know which direction is the American way. And I know in which direction lie the millions of jobs we need.
Mitt Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, was a Republican presidential candidate in 2008.