When he was Massachusetts’ governor, Mitt Romney grew government. When Mitt submitted his 59-point, 160-page economic plan, he devoted much of it to complaining about President Obama. He didn’t, however, talk much about changing the influence or reach of the federal government.

Now that Newt’s plan to transform Washington is gaining traction and people approve of Gov. Perry’s plan of bringing a wrecking ball to Washington, Mitt’s shapeshifting again to join the fray. This time, he really means it. Nevermind that allegedly comprehensive budget blueprint offered the day after Labor Day. That didn’t catch on. That’s why Mitt’s adding a chapter to his sales pitch.

It isn’t because he’s committed to cutting government. It’s because his initial sales pitch didn’t work so he’s switching to Plan B. If this plan doesn’t work, then he’ll likely introduce Plan C.

Mitt’s biggest problem isn’t his plan, though his plan is vague and timid. The biggest problem that Mitt’s having is convincing others that he is’t a flip-flopping politician who’ll say anything to get elected.

In other words, it isn’t the product. It’s the corporation that’s failing.

Like his initial plan, today’s op-ed is generalized and timid. Here’s a sampling from today’s op-ed:

First, eliminate every government program that is not absolutely essential. There are many things government does that we may like but that we do not need. The test should be this: “Is this program so critical that it is worth borrowing money to pay for it?” The federal government should stop doing things we don’t need or can’t afford. For example:

  • Repeal ObamaCare, which would save $95 billion in 2016.
  • Eliminate subsidies for the unprofitable Amtrak, saving $1.6 billion a year.
  • Enact deep reductions in the subsidies for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Legal Services Corporation.
  • Eliminate Title X family planning programs benefiting abortion groups like Planned Parenthood.
  • End foreign aid to countries that oppose America’s interests.

Second, return federal programs to the states where innovation, cost management and reduction of fraud and abuse can far exceed what Washington achieves. I will block grant Medicaid and workforce training, saving well over $100 billion in 2016. Third, sharply improve the productivity and efficiency of the federal government itself. Where we do want the federal government to act, it must do a better job. For instance:

  • Reduce the federal workforce through attrition and align compensation with the private sector, saving over $40 billion by 2016.
  • Repeal the Davis-Bacon Act, a union giveaway that artificially raises costs for government projects, and save taxpayers more than $10 billion a year in the process.
  • Attack rampant fraud in government programs by enacting far stiffer penalties for those who steal from taxpayers. Cutting improper payments in half could save more than $60 billion a year.
  • Consolidate, eliminate and streamline federal departments, agencies and offices following a stem-to-stern review.

Mitt’s plan is timid by Newt’s standards, the GAO’s standards and Tom Coburn’s standards. Most importantly, Mitt’s op-ed doesn’t say a thing about regulatory reform. Mitt’s post-Labor Day plan mentions regulatory reform only in passing. Reducing a small business’s compliance costs would be huge. Reducing coal-mining and oil exploration regulations would be huge. They’d have almost as big an economic impact as repealing Obamacare.

After Mitt’s enacting liberals’ wish list items as governor, then defending his actions during this year’s debates, conservatives don’t trust Mitt. I don’t think he can correct that situation. If he can’t correct that situation, rolling out new plans won’t help him. That’s because Mitt’s biggest difficulty is the guy in the mirror.

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