I’m not talking about his personal situation, about which I have not seen any evidence that he has done anything illegal. Rather, it is his ongoing insistence that he can cut taxes, increase significantly defense spending, and reduce the deficit. There are people who believe such palpable nonsense – after all, a significant minority of Republicans believes President Obama is not a citizen, is Muslim, or both.
Researchers from the non-partisan Tax Policy Center reported that Romney’s plan for revenue neutral tax cuts would result in the richest-of-the-rich getting an average cut of $250,000 while the average family earning less than $200,000 would need to pay an additional $2,000. Let’s put that another way: the richest people in the country would receive a tax cut that is larger than the average income of 95 percent of their fellow citizens, and it is those same fellow citizens who would pay for the cut.
Romney has been less than forthcoming about the details of his tax proposals – the same approach he takes on all of his policies – because if he lets folks know what he would do as their President, he would be criticized. It’s hard to make this stuff up. So the Tax Policy Center gave him the benefit of the doubt in coming up with their analysis. As stated by Benjy Sarlin in Talking Points Memo, “They assumed for their analysis that Romney would try to eliminate tax breaks favoring the rich as much as possible to pay for his plan, before turning to popular middle-class deductions on health care and mortgage payments to make up the remaining gap.” Even with such an unlikely assumption, the authors concluded, “It is not possible to design a revenue-neutral plan that does not reduce average tax burdens and the share of taxes paid by high-income taxpayers under the conditions described above, even when we try to make the plan as progressive as possible.” (From Catherine Rampell in the August 1 New York Times.)
The response of the Romney campaign is as predictable as it is tiresome. Eric “Etch-a-Sketch” Fehrnstrom called the report a “joke” according to Sarlin in today’s TPM. Policy Director Lanshee Chen, again according to Sarlin, denounced the report as “just another biased study from a former Obama staffer.” Chen, in her zeal for objectivity, apparently forgot to mention that another author was on George H.W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers. And when this same “biased” Tax Policy Center provided assessments of the tax plans of some of Romney’s competitors during the Republican primaries, the Romney campaign praised the group for its “objective, third-party analysis.”
While I will not be holding my breath for more details on tax policy from the Romney camp, we can expect another flurry of baseless speculation on Romney’s choice for his running mate. This has been the campaign’s shiny object that attracts an eager media each of the last two weeks when hit with negative publicity.