I spoke with a Romney insider who confirmed this to me, and felt that Romney has made a big next step toward campaigning on tax reform. I also have learned that Romney speaks every couple of weeks or so to top Republican congressional policy intellectual Paul Ryan, who himself supports a modified flat tax along the lines of Bowles-Simpson, but without any capital-gains tax hike.
Actually, the Ryan-Romney relationship is a very important one. Ryan has not endorsed anyone in the presidential race so far. But Romney has endorsed the Ryan budget (as has Huntsman). And it seems that the Ryan-Romney conversations were at least partly responsible for Ryan’s latest Medicare-reform plan, which is a Romney-like defined-contribution hybrid that leaves the existing Medicare program in place but crucially tacks on a menu of free-market choice for private insurance plans. One wonders if Mr. Ryan wouldn’t be the OMB director in a Romney administration. That is a very positive and enticing thought.
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen if Romney continues to talk publically about a bolder tax-reform plan, as he did in the New Hampshire debate. Right now, jobs and the economy are moving ever so slightly in President Obama’s direction. Should this continue, it would give the president a leg up on reelection.
So to make a winning case for the White House, the GOP has to do much more than just complain about the Obama economy. Republicans must be much bolder, with a growth message on tax, regulatory, and entitlement reform. They must make it clear that if elected they will end the cronyism of excessive tax deductions, corporate welfare, and government subsidies to big business and unions.
Mr. Romney has made a promising start with his economic message, but he has not yet gone into this level of detail.
Of course, Romney has worked successfully as a private financier and CEO. And out on the campaign trail, his attack on Obama’s European-like, social-welfare entitlement state is strong. He also contrasts Obama’s class-warfare message at every campaign stop with his vision for America’s soul — a merit-based opportunity society that rewards success, entrepreneurship, and freedom.
But now it’s time for Romney to fill in the blanks on his economic message — and really start exciting the country.
– Larry Kudlow, NRO’s economics editor, is host of CNBC’s The Kudlow Report and author of the daily web log, Kudlow’s Money Politic$.