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Romney proposes economic package

DETROIT-- Mitt Romney offered a sweeping plan Friday to boost the American economy, a program loaded with previously outlined tax and spending cuts as well as a new emphasis on how he'd change future Social Security and Medicare benefits.

He pledged repeatedly to reduce federal deficits, but an independent analysis found that his plan, like those of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, would add trillions to the government's already surging debt over 10 years.

Any serious plan to reduce the debt needs some revenue-raising component, and "on that score, all of these candidates fail," said Alice Rivlin, the former Federal Reserve vice chairwoman and federal budget director who was co-leader of a 2010 bipartisan panel that recommended deficit-reduction strategies.

Apart from Rep. Ron Paul of Lake Jackson, the GOP presidential candidates' plans are largely similar. All want lower taxes, big spending cuts and changes in Social Security and Medicare. Paul alone proposes plans that, if enacted, would reduce the national debt over time.

Santorum offered his own set of ideas Friday night. At a Knights of Columbus hall in Lincoln Park, he listed 10 priorities for his first 100 days, including promoting more domestic oil production, reducing burdensome regulations and providing new incentives for manufacturing.

He also pledged to propose on "Day One" legislation to repeal the 2010 federal healthcare law and to take steps to balance the federal budget in four years.

Santorum's ideas, like those of Romney and Gingrich, would lead to bigger national debt, according to the nonpartisan U.S. Budget Watch, a project of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Its analysis looked at the plans' impact through 2021, the year a new GOP president's second term would end.