GOP front-runners offer little detail on job revival plans 

Seventy-seven percent of Americans polled by Gallup in the first week of August believe the United States economy is getting worse.

According to Gallup, Americans have not been this pessimistic about the economy since the depths of the recession. Majorities of Americans also routinely tell pollsters that the “economy” or “unemployment and jobs” are the most important issues facing the country today.

Yet despite these opinions, the top two candidates heading into the first big event of the 2012 Republican primary are also the two candidates offering the fewest specifics on how they plan to turn the economy around.

Make no mistake, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., first and second respectively in polls of Iowa Republicans, both have plenty of criticism for President Barack Obama’s handling of the U.S. economy.

But despite their harsh criticisms of Obama’s job performance, Romney and Bachmann offer surprisingly little about how they plan to turn the economy around.

On his official campaign website Romney frankly admits he has not yet created a jobs plan. But he does promise that his future plan “will be based on the following principles,” which include “cutting spending,” “energy security” and preparing “American workers for the jobs of today and tomorrow.”

Bachmann’s jobs platform is equally short. She promises to “lead the way in cutting spending, reducing taxes and deep-sixing our 3.8 million-word Internal Revenue Code,” but beyond those glittering generalities provides no specifics.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, on the other hand, devoted an entire speech to outlining his “A Better Deal” vision for economic growth. It includes detailed tax reform proposals, requires sunsetting of all federal regulations unless specifically sustained by a vote of Congress, and limits the mandate of the Federal Reserve to focus only on price stability.

The one issue Pawlenty’s plan studiously avoids, however, is entitlements. His campaign aides have repeatedly promised they would release a Pawlenty Medicare reform plan this summer, but it still hasn’t been made public. Pawlenty also failed to endorse House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s, R-Wis., Medicare reform plan this spring; Bachmann, by contrast, voted for it.

Iowa Republicans, for now, do not seem to mind the lack of economic specifics from their favorite presidential candidates. Seeing which candidate can make the best case against Obama’s record seems to be enough so far.

But at some point, the eventual nominee is going to have to make a positive economic case to independent voters. Republican primary voters should make sure they will like what their candidate has to say when that time comes. Thursday’s GOP debate would be a great place for candidates to start.

Conn Carroll is associate editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner.

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