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KRUGMAN: Choosing between slow job, snow job

  • (MIKE LUCKOVICH / Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Mitt Romney has been barnstorming the country, telling voters that he has a five-point plan to restore prosperity. And some voters, alas, seem to believe what he's saying. So President Barack Obama has now responded with his own plan, a little blue booklet containing 27 policy proposals. How do these two plans stack up? Well, as I've said before, Romney's “plan” is a sham. It's a list of things he claims will happen, with no description of the policies he would follow to make those things happen. “We will cut the deficit and put America on track to a balanced budget,” he declares, but he refuses to specify which tax loopholes he would close to offset his $5 trillion in tax cuts.

Actually, if describing what you want to see happen without providing any specific policies to get us there constitutes a “plan,” I can easily come up with a one-point plan that trumps Romney any day. Here it is: Every American will have a good job with good wages. Also, a blissfully happy marriage. And a pony.

So Romney is faking it. His real plan seems to be to foster economic recovery through magic, inspiring business confidence through his personal awesomeness. But what about the man he wants to kick out of the White House? Well, Obama's booklet comes a lot closer to being an actual plan. Where Romney says he'll achieve energy independence, never mind how, Obama calls for concrete steps like raising fuel efficiency standards. Romney says, “We will give our fellow citizens the skills they need,” but says nothing about how he'll make that happen, pivoting instead to a veiled endorsement of school vouchers; Obama calls for specific things like a program to recruit math and science teachers and partnerships between businesses and community colleges.

So, is Obama offering an inspiring vision for economic recovery? No, he isn't. His economic agenda is relatively small-bore — a bunch of modest if sensible proposals rather than a big push. More important, it's aimed at the medium term, the economy of 2020, rather than at the clear and pressing problems of the present.

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