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Mitt Romney's new economic plan: Did it just fizzle?

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His economic plan includes some elements that are new this week (even if they weren't introduced in the speech itself). Before a Republican debate Wednesday, the Romney campaign fleshed out a tax-reform plan, calling for all personal income-tax rates to drop by 20 percent.

ENTITLEMENT REFORM. Romney also offered some new insights on entitlement reform. He blasted President Obama for saying he would make Medicare and Social Security solvent for future generations, but not offering serious plans.

"A few common-sense reforms will ensure we make good on our promises to today’s seniors while saving Social Security and Medicare for future generations," Romney said.

He called tax hikes "off the table" and said there will be no change for those at or near retirement.

On Social Security, Romney said a slow rise in the retirement age, coupled with slower growth in benefits for higher-income retirees, could fix the program's looming cash-flow imbalance.

On Medicare, Romney has embraced a "premium support" concept in which seniors could choose among insurance providers (including traditional Medicare) and receive government support to ensure they can afford that coverage. Lower-income seniors will receive the most generous benefits.

He said the new system should start for new retirees in 2022. "We will gradually increase the Medicare eligibility age by one month each year," Romney said. "In the long run, the eligibility ages for both programs will be indexed to longevity so that they increase only as fast as life expectancy."

Those are substantive ideas, albeit not ones that necessarily get crowds cheering – even members of the Detroit Economic Club.
TAX REFORM. Romney's income-tax plan, meanwhile, has drawn some significant conservative approval this week.

The former Massachusetts governor linked the tax-cut plan to job growth, calling low tax rates an incentive for hard work and risk-taking. More than half of all workers in the US, Romney said, are employed in businesses that pay taxes under the personal-income code, not as corporations.

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