Mitt Romney’s tax and spending proposals underscore an old political rule -- never spell out any parts of a fiscal or economic platform that are better left to voters’ imaginations. But the struggling Republican presidential hopeful now fears that his ring strategy of bobbing and weaving around every issue could lead to a technical knockout.
So he laid out a tax plan that he insists will be balanced, fair and revenue neutral, while still shielding the coupon-clippers like himself from any onerous increases.
“My plan is conservative in a way that stands out not only from President Obama's failed approach of higher taxes and runaway deficit spending, but also from the say-anything-to-get-elected fiscal recklessness of some of my Republican rivals,” Mr. Romney writes in today’s Wall Street Journal. “Offering gimmicky proposals that rely on implausible levels of economic growth and blow huge holes in the budget is easy. Fixing our very serious problems is not.”
He goes on to say: “I believe we must make the tax code simpler and fairer. We must reduce tax rates for job creators to promote economic growth. And we must still raise enough revenue to stop the endless borrowing that threatens American prosperity.”
Sounds good so far. Especially his proposal to cut all six personal income tax brackets by an across-the-board 20 per cent. But his plan, as might be expected, is seriously flawed. In fact, it’s not even a conservative plan, according to conservative analysts who know a thing or two about federal budgets.
To be fair, Mr. Vague didn’t provide enough details. But his balancing act rests heavily on a faster growing economy than most analysts forecast and on heavy cuts to the federal payroll, along with a restructuring of Medicaid.
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget calculates that if his economic growth assumptions are wrong, Washington’s fiscal position would be considerably eroded from an already unsustainable debt level.
But his proposal does have one big selling point: It would maintain the 15 per cent tax rate on capital gains, interest and qualified dividends, so that his own tax bill, at least, will remain nice and low.