Mitt Romney campaign sends us a Wall St. Journal Editorial

By KimberleyA. Strassel

The Wall Street Journal

March 30, 2007

"Republican voters are eyeing their presidential candidates up and down, wondering just what core conservative principles lurk beneath the expensive suits. They received their first inkling this week when the front-runners – namely Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani – started showing some leg on an issue that has the potential to galvanize the race: pro-growth economic policies.

"Tax cuts and pro-growth talk are staples of modern Republican primaries, but 2008 could elevate those issues to new heights. The base is in the dumps, disenchanted with a party that has lost sight of its economic moorings. This at a time when entitlements are ballooning, and the taxcode threatening to devour millions more Americans. Add it up, and there's a wide-open opportunity for a bold GOP candidate to capture imaginations with a sweeping economic plan, rooted in tax reform, but extending to an overhaul of everything from entitlements to trade."

"The guy with the momentum is former entrepreneur and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. He's signed an anti-tax pledge, bemoaned excessive regulation, called for cheaper energy with domestic drilling, and laid out (in detailed Power Point presentations) the coming fiscal disasters that are Social Security and Medicare. He took another plunge yesterday,unveiling a broad-strokes tax agenda.

"While short on details, he laid out a marker for the field, calling for lower marginal tax rates, a more competitive corporate tax and the end of the death tax. This isn't necessarily a surprise, given Mr.Romney's economic team is largely made up of the Bush tax-cut brain trust, including former Council of Economic Advisers chief Glenn Hubbard, his successor, Greg Mankiw, and Brian Reardon. Mr. Romney also scored a coup with economist John Cogan, who knows budgets inside-out, and is a tax-cutter to boot.

"What attracted many of these economists to the Romney team was the former governor's success, in a liberal state, of beating back big-tax proposals and instead choosing to erase deficits by hacking away at spending."

"Like everything in this sped-up race, the economic talk is coming early (President Bush didn't unveil his own tax plan until December1999). But if nothing else, it means Republican voters might get to watch their presidential aspirants engage in good, long debate about economic principles. Let's hope."

- Ms. Strassel is amember of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board, based in Washington. Her column appears Fridays.

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