The Iowa Strategy: Job Creation

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Iowa caucus-goers will choose their favorite GOP presidential hopefuls based on a number of issues, but jobs will be the biggest issue when voters hit the precincts.

A quick glance at the front-runners reveals that they agree on one thing: create jobs.

Mitt Romney calls the American workforce the nation's "greatest renewable natural resource." Though that rhetoric makes almost no literal sense, we understand Romney's figurative meaning. His plan includes seven subsections to grow jobs, but the section on "human capital" is worth noting as it directly pertains to workers. He wants to "retrain workers" through "personal re-employment accounts," which would facilitate government programs to place people directly into companies that provide on-the-job training. Romney's plan says that it would eliminate redundancy in already-existing federal retraining programs by consolidating into a single agency. Details beyond that are fairly sparse. It does say that states would manage these retraining programs and that the money would come from federal grants.

An interesting twist to Romney's job-creation or "human capital" plan, is his promise to attract "the best and the brightest." This section is a long comment on how the former Massachusetts governor plans to attract and retain foreign-born residents with advanced degrees to create jobs and drive innovation. He explicitly states "lawful" immigrants start about 16% of America's "top-performing, high-technology companies" and that they produce more than 25% of all patent applications filed in the United States. He wants to raise visa caps for "highly skilled workers" -- Romney doesn't qualify what that means -- and he wants to grant permanent residency to graduates with advanced degrees in math and science. At once, it tackles the supremely sensitive issue of immigration while it promotes job creation. Fine, but Romney has to put to work a lot more than people who are "highly skilled lawful immigrants" and workers in need of retraining.

Ron Paul takes less of a direct approach to job creation and emphasizes the need to cut government waste and decrease taxes, which the congressman expects will drive growth. Paul, like his opponents, says that the private sector creates jobs, not the government. So Paul wants to lower the corporate tax rate to 15%, extend all the Bush tax cuts and end taxes on personal savings. He feels that these steps will help American families "build a nest egg."

Paul also wants to cut an enormous $1 trillion in federal spending in the first year of his presidency, and he would do it by abolishing the departments of Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, Interior and Education. Additionally, these cuts would eliminate corporate subsidies, foreign aid, foreign wars and the Transportation Security Administration.

Paul would also repeal federal regulations such as Dodd-Frank, Obama's health care program and Sarbanes-Oxley. The congressman expects the cuts to return health to the economy, which will inspire new-found job growth.

Newt Gingrich's plan is a "pro-growth" strategy, which is an odd way to describe a jobs plan seeing as how none of the candidates, nor the president, have rolled out anything called an "anti-growth" strategy. Like Paul, Romney wants to repeal Obama's health care plan, Dodd-Frank, Sarbanes-Oxley and Obama's health care plan. But the former House speaker wants an optional 15% flat tax that would basically allow Americans to keep their tax plan or opt into Gingrich's new plan.

Gingrich would cut corporate income tax even lower, to 12.5%, allow 100% expensing of new equipment ("to spur innovation and American manufacturing") and completely eliminate capital gains taxes. Gingrich says he wants to balance the budget by growing the economy and controlling spending -- pitches we've heard in equally as ambiguous detail from most of the candidates.

Rick Santorum -- yes, he's suddenly a formidable candidate in Iowa -- lists a long page of bullet points as to how he wants to sustain the future of America's families. This pitch has gained traction among voters -- one that speaks to family and community instead of the individual. He wants to consolidate federal agencies, eliminate wasteful programs and reform Medicare and Social Security.

Santorum goes further than Paul and states that he wants to cut federal spending by $5 trillion in five years. He expects to do this by freezing spending levels for defense and social programs for five years. The former Pennsylvania senator wants to pass a balanced budget amendment and repeal Obama's health care program.

Santorum wants to freeze pay for non-defense federal employees for four years, cut the federal workforce by 10% and phase out defined benefit plans for "newer" workers. All energy and most agriculture subsidies will be cut within four years, according to his plan. U.S. funding to the United Nations and USAID employees will be cut in half.

What's interesting is that Santorum cuts specific programs because of social platforms: He wants to eliminate Planned Parenthood funding and use half of its funding to support adoptions, and he wants to cut funding for all U.N. agencies that promote abortion.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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