Mitt Romney's proposals on taxes, spending and growth have become inviting targets for his critics, potentially eroding one of the key rationales of his Republican presidential campaign—that he is better equipped than President Barack Obama to improve the economy.
Obama condemns Romney's agenda with memorable phrases such as "trickle-down fairy dust" and a new line of attack unveiled this week. Obama said Romney's ideas are the opposite of Robin Hood's because the presumptive Republican presidential nominee would rob from the middle class and give to the rich. "It's like Robin Hood in reverse," Obama said Monday in Stamford, Connecticut. "It's Romney Hood."
Obama added that all Romney and the Republicans do is attack him. "That may be a plan to win an election, but that's not a plan to create jobs, to grow the economy, or provide for the middle class," Obama told a rally in Stamford. "They don't have that plan. I do."
For his part, Romney says Obama's economic policies remind him of a "dog trying to chase its tail" because they get the country nowhere.
He is scheduled to carry that message on a four-state bus tour starting Saturday in Virginia, and continuing to North Carolina, Florida, and Ohio. All are battleground states where the presidential race is supposed to be close and hotly contested.
Romney's campaign issued several statements Tuesday arguing that Obama wants to gut conservative welfare reforms enacted by President Bill Clinton and a Republican-controlled Congress during the 1990's.
More broadly, Romney, a former investor and a one-term governor of Massachusetts, has aggressively attacked Obama's record, especially on creating jobs. He points out that the unemployment rate has just ticked upward to 8.3 percent. But some of Romney's central polices remain murky, and this is causing consternation among GOP strategists who want him to come up with a more compelling and more specific economic agenda. "He's coasting," says a former adviser to President Ronald Reagan. "He needs to tell us exactly where he's going."
Romney says his goal is to lower taxes on everyone, including the wealthy; cut spending; reduce regulations on business, especially small business; encourage more domestic energy development; improve education, and reduce the role of government in national life. Romney argues that his plan would create 12 million new jobs in four years.
But he has yet to add many specifics, such as listing the tax breaks that he would limit to reduce the federal deficit. Similarly, he has avoided spelling out exactly which individual programs he wants to eliminate or cut.
Romney told CNN over the weekend, "I can absolutely make the case that now is the time for something dramatic," but didn't give details.
Some GOP strategists are urging him to do all this at the Republican National Convention, which starts in Tampa on August 27 and where Romney will be formally nominated as the GOP challenger to Obama.
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog, "Ken Walsh's Washington," on usnews.com and is the author of "The Presidency" column in the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook or Twitter.