“The Math Is Inescapable,” Romney Tax Edition

by evanmcmurry

Remember when Mitt Romney released his tax plan, back in ye olde days of the GOP primary? No? Strange, because Romney had, even at that point, tens of millions of dollars behind him, so one would think that if he wanted you to know about his tax plan, with its regressive, across the board 20% tax cut, you’d know about it. Why would he hide a major policy initiative?

Via Jonathan Chait:

But he still attempted to hide the ball. Romney promised that his rate cut would be matched by closing tax deductions and some unspecified allowance for economic growth, and thus would not decrease the level (or the share) of taxes paid by the rich. Romney’s boast that his plan could not be scored revealed the essential calculation. But the campaign miscalculated. Yesterday’s study by the Brookings Institution and the Tax Policy Center showed that, even allowing for the faster growth predicted by Romney’s own economist, there aren’t enough tax deductions to account for the cost of the lower rates for the rich — raising taxes for the middle class would be the only way to make Romney’s promises add up. Romney didn’t hide the ball well enough.

[…] Romney isn’t offering a policy blueprint for what deductions he would take away, let alone a plausible scenario to pass such a plan even if it did exist. He’s just using the mystical economic pixie dust of the nonexistent corporate tax reform plan in order to hold out the hope of some missing ingredient, some unmeasurable X factor, to keep his proposal in the safe dreamworld where the cruel tyranny of math cannot apply. But the math is inescapable.

I’ll only add that it’s generous to say Romney’s team miscalculated. It’s entirely possible—likely?—that they knew full well the numbers didn’t add up. But Romney and Co. are ideologically committed to lowering taxes on the wealthy, whether such a move is economically or politically advisable or not, so they have to run with the tax plan no matter what the numbers say. (I’ll leave it to the Obama campaign to insinuate that this is not how private industry is run, and thus Mitt Romney’s business experience—his primary selling point—is essentially worthless when it runs up against the brick wall of intractable ideology.)

Romney now has hundreds of millions of dollars behind him, which means he has an exponentially greater ability to inform you about his tax policy, if he wants to do so. He could be running ads in every market touting his proposal to lower taxes by 20%; if Romney so desired, the very sound of his name could be associated with “20% tax cut,” such that his mere ephemeral presence initiates a Pavlovian response in the electorate. So if you don’t see ad after ad after ad for Romney’s tax cut, it means Romney doesn’t want you to know about one of his major economic policies, even as he runs for president on an economic platform. Which means, essentially, that Romney and Co. know their plan doesn’t do any of the things they say it will do besides cutting taxes on the rich—indeed, was probably never intended to do anything but that.

At least he’ll always have foreign policy.