Romney’s Tax Plan Defies the Rules of Math

Intellectual Amnesia
Intellectual Amnesia

Willard seems to have gambled that the electorate is so stupid that they can be brainwashed into voting for him on the basis of his haircut and his fat advertising budget. There is less than zero substance to anything Romney has proposed, and that is an intentional choice.

For instance: his tax “plan”…

Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, claims his far deeper tax cuts would have a price tag of exactly zero dollars. He has no intention of submitting his tax plan to the committee or anywhere else that might conduct a serious analysis, since he seems intent on running a campaign far more opaque than any candidate has in years.

He has made his economic plan the fundamental basis of his candidacy, and yet with the Republican convention just two weeks away, we know next to nothing of the plan’s details. The extreme cuts proposed by his new running mate, Paul Ryan, are far more hard-edged, making Mr. Romney’s mathematically impossible promises look vague and shopworn by comparison.

For example, Mr. Romney wants to keep all the Bush tax cuts, then cut taxes much further, particularly for the rich, but he says the plan won’t grow the deficit by a dime. He won’t say how he will accomplish this — there are no real numbers in his plan beyond a vague pledge to eliminate some loopholes. The Joint Committee would take one look at his substance-free plan and say, we can’t work with this.

Mr. Romney’s tax proposal is no different from any other aspect of his economic plan. He promises to cut nondefense spending by 5 percent, but won’t tell voters what programs that will affect. He wants to repeal all of President Obama’s regulations that burden the economy, but won’t say which ones. And he pledges to eliminate health care reform, but won’t discuss how or even whether he would replace it.

Earlier this month, a nonpartisan group of tax experts took matters into their own hands and tried to analyze the tax plan. What would happen, they asked, if you actually made all the cuts he has proposed? That would mean extending the Bush cuts, reducing income-tax rates by an additional 20 percent, and ending capital gains taxes for the middle class, the estate tax, the alternative minimum tax and the various taxes in health care reform, including the Medicare tax increase on high incomes. The experts at the Tax Policy Center estimated that this would cost $456 billion a year, starting in 2015.

But Mr. Romney said the cuts would be “revenue neutral” and cost nothing because they would be paid for by ending tax breaks and loopholes. He never identified those tax breaks, and now we know why — the experts concluded that there aren’t enough loopholes in the tax code to balance out the cuts. Following Mr. Romney’s plan would mean ending popular deductions for mortgage interest and charitable contributions, which would wind up raising taxes on the middle class, while the rich would still enjoy the benefits of an income-tax cut larger than the deductions they would lose.

On issue after issue, the dominant theme of Mr. Romney’s plan is a refusal to make real choices. He talks endlessly about his 59-point plan “to get America back to work,” but you can scrutinize all 160 pages of his economic booklet without finding any evidence of decision-making. A few examples:

He says he wants to cut nondefense spending by 5 percent, and cap federal spending at 20 percent of the economy, down from about 24 percent. But what would that actually mean in terms of programs cut and services reduced? The plan is silent. The programs he mentions cutting are the comically minuscule national endowments for the arts and the humanities, foreign aid, family planning, Amtrak and a few others — all tattered Republican punching bags.

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