During his family vacation in Park City, Utah, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney met with former Bush administration officials who comprise his economic policy team to discuss a tax reform for Romney's presidential campaign.
The meeting included Glenn Hubbard, former chairman of President Bush's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) who is co-chairman of Romney's economic policy council. Also on hand were former Bush economic policy officials Brian Reardon and Cesar Conda. Gregory Mankiw, another former CEA chairman, is Romney's economic co-chairman but could not attend the Utah meeting because of a knee injury.
Romney, seeking to contrast himself with Republican presidential front-runner John McCain on taxes, has surrounded himself with architects of Bush's tax plan. Vice President Dick Cheney had to cast a tie-breaking vote on the 2003 tax cuts because Sen. McCain had voted against them.
Two things from this post. First, while I believe that tax cuts are good (both because they have the potential to bring in increased revenue and because they limit the size of government), I just hope that these aren’t the people who did the PR for Bush’s tax cut. For anyone who even moderately understands fiscal policy and economics, the tax cuts were a resounding success. However, they were easily attacked as only benefiting the super rich. I believe that Romney is better at making his case for his ideas and policies than Bush, but he should be aware that, while the good of the country is of utmost importance, most people will not take the time to look deeper at an issue than the media label it is given, resulting in loss of public support. Thus, I say, continue to craft a dynamite economic package with the behind the scenes Bush people, but make sure to employ someone other than Bush’s PR people to promote it.
Second, I’m increasingly skeptical of who McCain’s constituency is. According to Novak, McCain voted against the tax cuts in 2003. We know his proposal for immigration was supported by Ted Kennedy and other liberal senators. He opposed the marriage amendment last year, saying it was “unRepublican”. He continues to be the leading supporter of the war. He has labeled his philosophy “Common Sense Conservatism”. I’m not sure what constituency his record appeals to. On some issues, he would seem to alienate the conservatives. Yet his support of the war would certainly alienate liberals. Does that mean that he represents the middle of America in between? I guess that’s what voters will tell us in 2008, but it seems highly unlikely to me that his mix of liberal and conservative ideas will appeal to any base in particular.