Romney unveils economic plan ahead of Obama speech

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Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is calling for lowering the corporate tax rate and eliminating capital gains taxes as part of a plan to try to lift the struggling economy and create jobs.

The former Massachusetts governor was detailing 59 specific proposals aimed at fixing the nation’s stubbornly high unemployment rate, now at 9.1, at McCandless International Trucks in this hard-hit state on Tuesday.

“At best, government can provide a framework in which economic growth can occur. All too often, however, government gets in the way,” Romney wrote Tuesday in an opinion piece in USA Today that previewed his 160-page plan. “The past three years of unparalleled government expansion have retaught that lesson all too well.”

Romney’s plan calls for lowering the tax rate for corporations — it tops out at 35 percent, one of the highest in the world — in a bid to encourage more companies to keep profits in the U.S. Romney also wants to eliminate taxes on interest, capital gains and dividends. His campaign says that proposal is aimed at middle-class Americans as a way to spur investment among individuals. But few middle-class Americans actually pay that tax.

He is calling for lower corporate taxes just a few weeks after drawing criticism from Democrats for saying that “Corporations are people.”

Arguing that President Barack Obama has greatly expanded federal regulations, Romney also is proposing steps that he says will help ensure that new regulations at government agencies don’t cost money. If a new set of rules raises costs for businesses, Romney would require that a different set of regulations be eliminated.

Romney planned to use the plan’s rollout to contrast his candidacy with his Republican rivals and present a comprehensive outline for fixing the economy just as Obama prepares to unveil his jobs initiative on Thursday.

“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,” Romney wrote in USA Today, a barb aimed at Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has held public office since he was elected as a Texas state representative in 1985.

Obama is slated to outline a specific jobs plan in an address before a joint session of Congress. The GOP presidential field will gather in Simi Valley, Calif., on Wednesday for a debate. Obama initially wanted to deliver his speech on Wednesday, but was forced to move the date after House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, objected.

The plan is Romney’s first major policy statement since he announced he was running for president in June. He chose Nevada, where the state unemployment rate was 12.9 percent in July, to introduce the plan.

The state has also been particularly hard hit by the foreclosure crisis. But it’s also friendly territory for Romney, a Mormon who won the Republican caucuses here in 2008. Nevada is home to a significant number of Mormons.

Democrats criticized Romney’s plan — even before he rolled it out. Brad Woodhouse, a spokesman for the Democratic Party, said: “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.”