Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney aimed squarely at the Republican center as he launched his economic program on Tuesday, proposing spending cuts and lower taxes while vowing to get tough against China.

 

Romney, who announced his plan two days before Democratic President Barack Obama makes a major address on the economy, said his plan would spur economic growth of 4 percent per year for his first four years in office and would create 11.5 million jobs.

The former Massachusetts governor told a staunchly Republican audience at a Las Vegas trucking company that he would introduce five bills and make five executive orders on his first day in office. Among the components of his plan are:

* Romney would issue an executive order to pave the way to ending Obama's healthcare plan, directing federal officials to return authority to the states to design healthcare programs that work for them.

* Romney would introduce bills to cut discretionary government spending by 5 percent, excluding funds for security and entitlement programs, a move he said would reduce the federal budget by $20 billion.

* Romney would seek to cut the corporate income tax rate to 25 percent, which he said would bring the United States on par with the average rate in other developed nations. He said the current rate of 35 percent was among the highest in the world.

He also vowed to eliminate taxes on interest, dividends or capital gains for middle-class Americans.

* He would issue an executive order to boost domestic energy production, directing the Interior Department to start a process to rapidly issue drilling permits to developers with established safety records who sought to use pre-approved techniques in pre-approved areas.

Romney, who said oil and gas exploration would create jobs, would also propose a bill asking for a comprehensive survey of U.S. energy reserves in partnership with exploration companies, and would initiate leasing in all areas currently approved for exploration.

* He would issue an executive order to sanction China for what he described as unfair trade practices, asking the Treasury Department to list China as a currency manipulator and directing the Commerce Department to assess duties on Chinese imports if Beijing does not quickly move to float its currency.

He would also introduce a bill to implement free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and Korea.

* Romney would introduce a bill to consolidate federal retraining programs and return funding and control of those programs to states. On labor issues, he would issue an executive order to reverse moves by Obama that he said tilt the playing field in favor of organized labor.

* He would order government agencies to eliminate regulations that he said burden the economy or job creation, and would bar increases in regulatory costs in a move he said was aimed at reducing red tape to help the economy grow.