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Romney's 'Day One': What do we know about his plan?

Mitt Romney has outlined a bold agenda to spur economic growth and create jobs. On his first day in office, he will approve the Keystone pipeline, introduce pro-growth tax reforms, and repeal Obamacare.


Forget a president's first 100 days. Mitt Romney's first television ad of the general election, "Day One," comes as close as anything in describing the most urgent priorities of a President Romney upon taking office.

The ad is running in five swing states, and the presumptive GOP nominee's campaign is putting $1.3 million behind it; a Spanish-language analog is running in North Carolina, with a much smaller ad buy behind it.

Nonetheless, Romney's ad is meant to drive a three-point plan: 1. Approve the Keystone Pipeline, 2. Introduce tax reform, and 3. Begin dismantling and replacing President Obama's health care law.

In short, Romney's message is about jobs, taxes, energy and health care.

So what do we know about the specifics of Romney's three-point plan?

Keystone -

Republicans, including Romney, have vocally criticized President Obama for rejecting an initial proposal by the TransCanada Corporation to build an oil pipeline through the central United States. The administration rejected the project out of environmental concerns and because it felt Republicans were rushing its approval of the project, at the expense of due diligence. (TransCanada has subsequently re-applied for a permit to build a pipeline along new routes.)

Romney invoking the example is meant to address the issues of jobs and energy.

TransCanada and supporters of the pipeline -- who range from Republicans in Congress to the organized labor community -- contend the project would create at least 20,000 jobs. The project's most ardent supporters claim these, in turn, would lead to additional job creation.

As for energy, it's much more difficult to say what the effect of building the Keystone Pipeline would have on the price of oil. Its mere approval could conceivably diminish speculation that drives up oil prices, but gauging the direct impact is difficult. Moreover, the pipeline would take years to become fully operational and deliver excess supply to gas stations in the U.S.

"Taking advantage of our energy resources is one of my priorities," Romney said Friday in a conference call with supporters. Among his other plans for his first day in office, Romney said he would also allow expanded permits for oil and gas exploration on federal lands. Romney said, for instance, he would authorize drilling on the East Coast's Outer Continental Shelf.

Tax reform -

The centerpiece of Romney's plan would include a permanent, across-the-board reduction of 20 percent for all income tax brackets.

He's also on the record supporting a number of other tax cuts, including maintaining current tax rates on investment income, eliminating the taxes on estates, cutting the corporate tax rate to 25 percent, and repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax, among other reforms.

The impact of these reforms on the rising national debt -- something Romney routinely decries -- is much more opaque, though.

Romney has said eliminating some tax deductions, combined with economic growth and cuts in spending would make the impact of his tax plan deficit-neutral at a minimum.

"One thing I'm also going to to do is work with Congress to limit the deductions and exemptions and special deals that are in our tax code," Romney said on the conference call.

But the former Massachusetts governor hasn't specified the exemptions or deductions he would eliminate beyond a select few (for instance, the mortgage deductions associated with a second home). Romney has previously said that the wealthy might shoulder a greater tax burden under his reforms, though he hasn't said how. (An analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has suggested that might not be the case.) The Romney campaign also hasn't provided a detailed enough tax plan in order to subject it to static or dynamic scoring of its impact on the deficit and debt.

As for the spending side, Romney's website offers some additional details, but not enough to necessarily account for the total impact of his plan -- either on jobs, or the deficit.

The "issues" section of Romney's website includes an additional "Day One" promise: to send Congress a bill slashing non-defense discretionary spending by five percent across-the-board.

Other parts of Romney's site detail areas he would cut, and the savings associated with each of those cuts. Those savings include the elimination of subsidies to programs like the National Endowment for the Arts, and cuts in subsidies to Amtrak or the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

"There are items that I like that I will stop funding," Romney explained during the call.

Health reform -

Romney's new ad calls for not just the repeal of "ObamaCare," but its replacement, as well.

If part or all of the law were allowed to stand following the Supreme Court's ruling next month, Romney would have some options to undo the law on his first day in office, but they would be limited.

The former Massachusetts governor has said his ultimate goal is to return health care decisions to individual states, and create incentives for more efficient health care delivery.

Romney repeated his promise to issue a waiver to states, allowing them to duck some of the requirements of health care reform that conservatives find most onerous. But many other parts of the law would remain in effect, and would require legislative action to both enact a repeal of ObamaCare and a subsequent replacement. That could conceivably pass the House if it were to remain in Republican control, but unless Republicans were to somehow win a 60-seat majority in the Senate this fall, the GOP would need to attract Democratic support for Romney's alternative.

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There are other things Romney said he would do on his first day, among them labeling China a currency manipulator and putting a hold on regulations enacted by the Obama administration.

Democrats have contested Romney's ad, with the Obama campaign labeling it as full of "empty promises."

"We know why Mitt Romney didn’t keep his promises- his business experience wasn’t in strengthening companies and creating jobs for long-term economic growth. It was in reaping quick profits for himself and his investors at the expense of workers and communities," said Lis Smith, a spokeswoman for the president's re-election. "These are the values that he wants to bring to the White House by giving more budget-busting tax cuts to the wealthy and letting Wall Street write its own rules—the same formula that benefited a few, but crashed our economy and punished the middle class."

A Democratic super PAC, American Bridge 21st Century, also produced a parody ad concluding of Romney's first-day plans: "We'll pass."