By Sasha Issenberg, Globe Staff
SALEM, N.H. -- John McCain, who happily volunteers he doesn't know much about economics, turned his attention to the subject today by unveiling a new set of "pro-growth" policies to keep up with a shift in the Republican conversation away from Iraq and terrorism towards domestic concerns.
"There are more and more questions at the town-hall meetings about the economy," McCain said at an optics manufacturer here before talking about trade and taxes, issues that McCain rarely chooses to highlight on the campaign trail.
He proposed renewing the current round of tax cuts, altering congressional rules to make future tax increases more difficult, and changing the tax code to encourage investment and entrepreneurship and end the alternative-minimum tax. "To have two tax codes in America is
not an unacceptable situation," McCain said.
Yet in remarks the campaign labeled as an "economic plan for American prosperity," McCain turned away repeatedly from macroeconomic policy to reform issues seen as his strengths: controlling federal spending and limiting the role of lobbyists in securing tax loopholes.
"There's a new emphasis on economic issues on everybody's part," said Charlie Black, a McCain strategist. "The first thing you have to do is let voters know it's a concern to you about economic anxiety."
McCain stood before a line graph showing the increase of the alternative-minimum tax, a low-budget campaign's alternative to the PowerPoint presentation Mitt Romney uses when talking about economic policy, a subject on McCain has said he feels he unknowledgeable that
filling the void would be a priority when selecting a vice-presidential nominee.
Like Mike Huckabee, who joked recently that he "may not be the expert that some people are on foreign policy, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night," McCain suggested to reporters Monday that American consumer culture offered a short cut to expertise. "The issue
of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should," McCain said. "I've got Greenspan's book."