I know this is an easy one folks, but I can’t help myself. Today Mitt Romney appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box to discuss his relative success in last night’s Super Tuesday elections. Some of the questioning surrounded his tax plan, and specifically included his response to analysis done by the Tax Policy Center and others showing that his plan would be anything but “revenue neutral” (emphasis added, of course):
ROMNEY: WHAT I PUT OUT IN MY PLAN IS A SERIES OF PRINCIPLES THAT ALLOW OUR ECONOMY TO GROW AND AT THE SAME TIME MAINTAIN A NEUTRAL BUDGET IMPACT. AND SO I HAVEN’T LAID OUT ALL THE DETAILS OF HOW WE’RE GOING TO DEAL WITH EACH ONE OF THE DEDUCTIONS AND EXEMPTIONS. I THINK IT’S KIND OF INTERESTING FOR THE GROUPS TO TRY AND SCORE IT BECAUSE FRANKLY IT CAN’T BE SCORED BECAUSE THOSE KIND OF DETAILS HAVE TO BE WORKED OUT WITH CONGRESS AND WE HAVE A WIDE ARRAY OF OPTIONS. ONE MORE PRINCIPLE THAT I MENTIONED AND I WANT TO MENTION IT HERE IS THAT IT IS ESSENTIAL TO ME THAT WE NOT PLACE A LARGER SHARE OF THE TAX BURDEN ON MIDDLE INCOME TAXPAYERS. SO THAT MEANS THAT WE’RE NOT GOING TO END UP WITH VERY HIGH INCOME TAXPAYERS TAKING A SMALLER SHARE. WE’RE GOING TO HAVE TO LIMIT THE DEDUCTIONS AND EXEMPTIONS IN SUCH A WAY, AGAIN LIMITING THEM TOWARD MORE HIGH-INCOME FOLKS SO THEY DON’T PAY A SMALLER SHARE OF THE TOTAL. THEY CONTINUE TO PAY THE SAME SHARE THEY’RE PAYING NOW. SAME THINGS WITH MIDDLE INCOME TAX PAYERS. I’M NOT LOOKING FOR A WAY TO CHANGE THE PROGRESSIVITY OF THE CODE. I’M LOOKING FOR A WAY INSTEAD TO LOWER THE MARGINAL RATES WHICH IS THE MOST POWERFUL WAY TO ENCOURAGE THE ECONOMY TO GROW AND TO GET INVESTMENT IN JOBS AGAIN. THAT, OF COURSE, PUTS MORE PEOPLE INTO PAYING TAXES AND HELPS RECOVER THE TAX REVENUES WE SO BADLY NEED.
First, a totally unrelated gripe: why do so many transcripts feature all-caps? It’s annoying, it’s difficult to read, and makes everything seem angry.
Anyway, a couple of caveats here:
1. Releasing a “plan” in Washington with key details is the rule, not the exception.
2. Applying “principles” to public policy is also the norm, and is distinctly non-partisan.
That being said, if you think it can’t be scored – period – then it really isn’t a “plan.” Which is to say, it’s one thing to state that third-party analysis of how your “principles” would look in the real world is incorrect because certain details would make the difference between budget busting and revenue neutral. It’s quite another to emphatically assert that your proposed tax changes can’t be objectively assessed until well after your elected. If that were the case why release a “plan” at all?