Tuesday, September 11, 2012

With Mitt Romney, the Flip Flops Just Keep Coming – And a Compliant Press Says Nothing

Pointing Out the Inconsistencies in Mr. Romney’s Actual Statements Would be Mean

The idea that the 2012 Presidential election is going to be fairly reported by the Press has taken a serious blow to the head, and that idea is unlikely to survive.  Case in point is the latest positions taken by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan on various issues.

The main area of obfuscation is of course the tax plan of Mr. Romney and his running mate, although it is not certain Mr. Romney’s tax plan and Mr. Ryan’s tax plan are in the same room together.  The heart of Mr. Romney’s plan, at least until now has been these three points.

  1. Current tax rates are cut 20% across the board, thus preserving the Bush era tax cuts and going them one better.
  2. The tax cuts will be revenue neutral, meaning they will not increase the deficit.
  3. This miraculous feat will come about because wealthy people will pay just as much as before, because their loss of deductions and other special items will offset the lower tax rates.

The rationale behind this, according to Mr. Romney is tax policy by assertion.  It will happen because he says it will happen.

Pressed by NBC's David Gregory in an interview that aired Sunday on “Meet the Press,” the Republican presidential nominee said he would be able to lower individual tax rates and remain revenue neutral, since he would limit tax deductions for high-income earners that would not change the amount of taxes that the wealthy would actually end up paying. Under his plan, the middle class would not be affected, he insisted, and that would also spur economic growth.

But is the middle class not affected?  Well no, they actually get a tax break.

“Middle-income people are going to get a break,” Romney said.

So wealthy people pay the same, middle income people pay less and the tax revenue remains the same.  Wow, that’s some arithmetic.  Here’s how Mitt explains his economics.

Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Romney cited multiple economic studies that he said show that closing loopholes and bringing down tax rates across the board “can create enormous incentive for growth of the economy.’’

Presumably those studies cited did not related to 2001 to 2005, the last time tax cuts were supposed to spur economic growth and raise revenues.

To his credit NBC’s David Gregory tried to get Mr. Romney to answer the math question,

“Governor, where are the specifics of how you get to this math?” Gregory asked. “Isn't that an issue?”

But Mitt Romney apparently has practiced non-answers for months, and his skill at evasion was no match for Mr. Gregory’s.

“Well, the specifics are these which is those principles I described are the heart of my policy,” Romney replied. 

And pressed further Mr. Romney would say only this.

Asked to identify a tax loophole that he would close, Romney replied: “Well, I can tell you that people at the high end, high-income taxpayers, are going to have fewer deductions and exemptions.  Those numbers are going to come down. Otherwise, they'd get a tax break. And I want to make sure people understand, despite what the Democrats said at their convention, I am not reducing taxes on high income taxpayers.”

As for his running mate, Mr. Ryan is simply going to turn the matter over to the Congress.

Ryan said. “And we think the best way to do this is to get this framework in place and then negotiate, work with Democrats, work with people across the aisle, have these kinds of hearings, have this conversation to get this objective.”

The reason for all of this is, of course, the fact that the details of the plan are politically toxic.  As Romney economic adviser Martin Feldstein of Harvard has stated, to do what Mr. Romney proposes everyone whose income is over $100,000 would lose all their deductions, would have their employer paid health care premiums become taxable and lose their ability to exclude interest on state and local government bonds.  Oh yes, and even that wouldn’t do it.

Yep, that’s about as toxic as it is going to get.  So don’t expect the media to expose the flim-flam plan.  That would not be fair, it involves too many facts.

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