Rear-running Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman rolled out a tax-cutting jobs plan on Wednesday he called “not radical or revolutionary,” but a set of hard choices that would lead to increased employment and a path back to global competitiveness.
Speaking at Gilchrist Metal Fabricating in Hudson, N.H., the former Utah governor and ambassador to China outlined a tax package that would lower individual and corporate rates while eradicating tax-code complications like loopholes, deductions, and subsidies.
He became the first major presidential candidate to lay out a jobs plan. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney prepares to announce his package next Tuesday. President Obama, meanwhile, is planning to deliver his jobs and economy plan to Congress next week on a to-be-determined date that became the subject of a political brouhaha Wednesday.
“It’s time for America to start building things again. It’s time for America to start working again. It’s time for America to compete again,” Huntsman said.
According to a draft circulated by the campaign, Huntsman's plan would “get rid of all tax expenditures, all loopholes, all deductions, all subsidies,” adopting the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission’s “zero plan,” and cut individual income-tax rates to 8, 14, and 23 percent. It would eradicate the alternative minimum tax, as well as taxes on capital gains and dividends.
He also proposed cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent, and having a tax holiday to encourage corporations to repatriate profits from overseas. Huntsman said that would free as much as $600 billion for “capital investments.”
Huntsman acknowledged that some of the proposals have been under consideration by policymakers for years. “Therein lies the problem," he said. "Washington has never suffered from a vacuum of ideas. It suffers from a vacuum of leadership.”
Huntsman has flailed since announcing his candidacy in June, polling in the low single digits in recent surveys and undergoing campaign turmoil that has at times distracted from his message.
The message, too, has proved out of step with the rest of the primary field. Already dented by his affiliation with President Obama, who appointed him ambassador to China, Huntsman has consistently strayed from the his party's orthodoxy. “To be clear,” he tweeted earlier this month. “I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”
But Huntsman handed out his share of red meat to Republicans on his New Hampshire stop. He called for repeal of the Obama health-care law, called the Dodd-Frank Wall Street regulation legislation "a monstrosity," and called for reining in the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration. Identifying himself as “a former diplomat, trade official, governor, and business executive,” Huntsman faulted the president for failing to prioritize trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama, and proposed quick action toward a bilateral free trade agreement with India.
He suggested he's better qualified than his GOP primary rivals. “Meeting our challenges will require serious solutions, but above all, it will require serious leadership—a quality in high demand in our nation’s capital, and among my opponents on the campaign trail,” Huntsman said.
Answering questions from a largely friendly crowd at the fabricating plant, Huntsman said he wanted to “narrow the priorities for the American people” down to debt, economic growth, and energy independence. “2012 is going to be about nothing beyond expanding this economy and creating jobs, plain and simple,” he said.