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Memo: The Romney Speech: Bold and Sweeping—or Else

Memorandum

To: Interested Parties

From: Brad Woodhouse, DNC Communications Director

Re: The Romney Speech: Bold and Sweeping...Or Else

Date: Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bold and sweeping. If only it had been the DNC which had used those words in setting expectations for Mitt Romney's economic speech today. But no, it was the candidate himself in a speech in Florida last week. A high bar to be sure, but certainly an appropriate one for someone who has staked his entire candidacy on the issue of the economy and his own ability to manage it.

Of course the Romney "I'm the only one in the race who knows anything about the economy" strategy has always been a bit curious. His rivals, after all, have not been shy at all about pointing to his 47th out of 50 states standing on job creation when he was Massachusetts governor. 

And his Johnny One Note campaign on the economy is even more curious given the fact he has been following on the issue all year instead of leading. Paul Ryan and the House GOP say end Medicare and slash research and development, education and job training programs, Mitt Romney says sign me up. The far right wing continues to work to dismantle and privatize Social Security, Mitt Romney says I'm in - but calls it something else. When the Tea Party proposes an extreme economic and budget plan with a draconian balanced budget requirement that would cost millions of jobs, Mitt Romney pledges allegiance.  And, when the most extreme elements of the Republican Party urged Congress to vote down the recent debt deal and allow our country to go into default, Mitt Romney said that's exactly how he'd vote.

The fact is, if Mitt Romney has expressed a single original idea on the economy in the entire time he has been running for president - for the second time - you could auction it off on eBay in the rare stamp collection area.

So Mitt Romney has a high bar to clear today - and a lot of questions to answer.  Will Mitt Romney offer, as promised, a comprehensive economic plan that strengthens the middle class and helps families across the country feel confident in their futures? Or will he offer the same failed Tea Party infused policies that he and his Republican opponents are campaigning on?  Unless Mitt Romney breaks with every policy that he’s adopted on the campaign trail, his plan will just be a retread of the tired policies that led our country to the brink of a second Great Depression and left families across the country reeling.

And, Mitt Romney will have no bigger task today than to offer a credible jobs and economic plan in light of his embrace of the extreme Tea Party economic and budget plan which was offered during the debt default debate.

That proposal is nothing more than a plan for shifting the burden of deficit reduction squarely on the backs of those hardest hit by the recession. Mitt Romney and Congressional Republicans want to protect tax breaks for the wealthiest and corporations by gutting Social Security and Medicare, cutting funding for K -12 education, and wiping out investments in critical areas that will help spur job creation and grow our economy.  That proposal, with its sharp and immediate cuts and its extreme balanced budget requirement, would cost the nation millions of jobs and slow our economy to a crawl.  It would require such deep cuts to job creation initiatives like education, job training, research and development and infrastructure that it would be nearly impossible to turn our current economic fortunes around and would leave few if any options on the table to boost the economy.

So, the first bar Mitt Romney will have to clear in his speech is explaining how his plan would boost the economy when his support for the Tea Party economic and budget plan would put him millions of jobs in the hole at the start.  

Another weight on Mitt Romney's claim that he has the experience and ideas to create jobs is a pesky little thing known as his record.  As the Governor of Massachusetts, the state ranked 47th out of 50 in job creation and was the 3rd worst in the country for manufacturing jobs.  In the private sector, Romney benefited by laying people off and shipping jobs overseas. That sort of track record is not going to sit well with the Americans who are looking to find a job with a good wage and decent health care.

But perhaps the biggest hurdle for Romney will be the policies themselves - likely the same kind of pie in the sky trickle-down economics that have failed in the past to do anything but line the pockets of the wealthy and the well-heeled.  More tax breaks for the rich, cutting taxes for special interests and big corporations, and allowing Wall Street to write its own rules while the middle class is left to fend for itself.  None of these policies should come as a surprise from the candidate who declared that "corporations are people."

Mitt Romney has promised an economic plan that is bold and sweeping.  But if the past months have shown anything, what Americans are really likely to get is more of the same tired rhetoric and worn out ideas which have failed America in the past.  And if the best Mitt Romney can offer is Tea Party warmed over ideas of the past, how does that distinguish him with anyone else running for the nomination?

The truth is Mitt Romney will announce a laundry list of economic proposals today. But what's important is his vision. And by adopting the extreme policy prescriptions of the Tea Party, we know Mitt Romney's vision is of an America that has to lower its sights, can't realize its full potential and has to put the narrow interests of the privileged few ahead of everyone else.