During a town hall in Michigan Tuesday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney promised to release a more detailed economic plan this week that will combine his tax policy with spending and entitlement reform.
SHELBY TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Mitt Romney promised on Tuesday to unveil a more specific economic plan later this week, one that that would integrate his views on tax policy, spending and entitlement reform into one complete package.
Romney, who's set to make a major economic address at Ford Field in Detroit on Friday, teased the new plan, which seems aimed at quieting critics who have attacked his economic plan for lacking specificity.
"What I'm going to be doing over the coming days, is I'm going to be talking about how to make all three of those things work together," Romney told a attendees at a town-hall style meeting here some 25 miles north of Detroit.
Romney, who said he laid out the "beginnings" of his ideas in his 2011 book "No Apology," described a platform that would include spending cuts, "flatter, fairer and simpler" taxes that he said would encourage growth, and and specific reforms to entitlements like social security and medicare.
While Romney did not elaborate much beyond that point, he did provide a clue to his thinking in answering a question from a Tea Party supporter, who asked Romney for his views on the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles debt commission which was organized by, then largely abandoned by, President Obama.
"I think very highly of their recommendations, let me start out by saying that," Romney said. "I find it extraordinary that the president of the United States would bring together a group of such esteemed individuals from both sides of the aisle and say to them, how can we balance our budget, and at the same time, how can we create tax policies that encourage growth. Because both are important. If you just cut, if all you're thinking about doing is cutting spending, why, as you cut spending you'll slow down the economy. So you have to, at the same time, create pro-growth tax policies. And so the Simpson-Bowles Commission attempted to do that in their own way."
"I'm not endorsing every single aspect of their proposals, but I'll be coming out with some proposals of my own this week that describe how I'd cut, [and] how I'll create more pro-growth tax policies," Romney added, standing in front of a giant sign reading "Cut the Spending."
For Romney, who has long said he favors elements of Simpson-Bowles, a full embrace of the commission's recommendations would be complicated. Simpson-Bowles proposed a roughly three-to-one ratio of spending cuts to tax increases. Romney, along with every other GOP candidate, said they would reject even a ten-to-one cuts versus tax increases plan at a debate in August.
Still, a more robust plan, well sold, from Romney might quiet critics who have said his economic ideas presented thus far lacked specifics and bold reforms, and could help improve his fortunes in the host of contests on the horizon for Super Tuesday.
Today, in his only public event of the day, Romney went back to basics stylistically, holding only his second town hall style event since South Carolina. He fielded a host of questions on topics as varied as selecting justices for the Supreme Court (Romney labeled himself a strict constructionist on judges, and pointed to Roberts, Alito and Scalia as his kind of appointees), to the Federal Reserve (audit it), to Rick Santorum (hasn't been vetted, not a fiscal conservative.)
In an only-in-Michigan touch, attendees munched on paczki, a Polish Fat Tuesday treat, during Romney's introduction. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Romney co-chair here, looked to set expectations low for the former Massachusetts governor's home state, labeling Romney the "comeback kid," and referring to the on-again-off-again frontrunner as an "underdog" here -- twice.