Mitt Romney’s campaign promised to unveil more specifics on Romney’s campaign proposals during a conference call with reporters Monday, pushing back on bipartisan criticism that the Republican has yet to say clearly what he’d actually do in office.
But the campaign’s pledge for specifics was lacking new specifics itself — campaign officials instead listed a litany of policy proposals Romney’s already discussed on the campaign trail.
“We are looking forward to this new emphasis and renewed emphasis on why it is electing Gov. Romney and Rep. Ryan would result in better, higher take-home pay an more jobs in our economy,” Romney adviser Ed Gillespie said on the call. He promised new specifics will come in “events and remarks and background papers, surrogate efforts and paid advertising.”
Gillespie pointed to Romney’s scheduled speech at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Monday as evidence of the new focus on specific policy details. In excerpts from the speech, Romney points to several broad policy plans he’s outlined before.
“I will send a number of programs that have been growing uncontrollably fast back to the states where I will limit their funding to the rate of inflation, or in the case of Medicaid, to inflation plus one percent,” he says in the remarks. “I will look to sharply increase the productivity of Washington by reducing federal government employment by 10 percent through attrition, by combining agencies and departments to reduce overhead, and by linking government compensation with that of the private sector. These things combined will reduce spending by $500 billion a year by the end of my first term.”
Romney has mentioned all of that before. In November 2011, Romney told an Americans for Prosperity conference in Washington essentially the exact same line, with a few more details like a promise to tie government workers’ salaries to the private sector.
“Public servants should not get a better deal than the taxpayers they work for,” he told the conference. “By linking government pay with private-sector pay, we will save as much as $47 billion a year.”
Gillespie said that idea is going to make a comeback. But he did not identify exactly which federal departments Romney plans to eliminate, nor did he indicate that Romney plans to reveal that information. In April, reporters outside a closed Romney fundraiser caught him revealing that the Department of Housing and Urban Development — the department Romney’s father ran — “might not be around later.” Romney has said the Department of Education, which many Republicans want to eliminate, would stay in tact as either part of another cabinet agency or simply as it exists but “a heck of a lot smaller.” But, he said in April, “I’m not going to get rid of it entirely.”
Gillespie pointed to those already existing plans as evidence of the new specificity that the Romney campaign will be providing this week.
“We’ve talked about different departments, I know he’s talked about HUD before, we’ve talked about job training as well and different programs,” Gillespie said. “We’ll continue to talk about those mergers.”
Other specifics mentioned on the call: Romney’s promise to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline and open up new lands to drilling as part of his energy independence plan. That is not new territory for the campaign, either.
Gillespie strongly suggested that the specificity critics on both sides if the aisle have been demanding — such as the exact tax loopholes Romney would close — will be part of Romney’s new focus on policy. Loopholes and other more potentially controversial specifics have not been part of Romney’s effort so far, and on Monday Ryan told the Christian Broadcasting Network that specific loopholes probably won’t be forthcoming.
Gillespie suggests the Romney campaign feels that resurfacing policy proposals Romney’s already surfaced will do the trick.
“This is reinforcing,” Gillespie said. “We’re not rolling out new policy, so much as we are making sure that when we say we can do things, this is how we are going to get things done.”