Skeptical economists and liberal critics have long questioned whether Mitt Romney can really deliver on his promise to lower everyone's taxes by 20 percent without blowing a huge hole in the budget. Indeed, a comprehensive analysis by the Tax Policy Center concluded that Romney's plan would rely on the closure of popular loopholes, resulting in big breaks for the wealthy and increased tax burdens on the poor and middle class. This week, Romney economic adviser Kevin Hassett conceded that if the math doesn't add up, the GOP candidate might not be able to cut tax rates as much as he wants. The Romney campaign promptly threw water on Hassett's remark, saying that the GOP nominee's "goals are achievable." Still, Romney is telling taxpayers not to be "expecting a huge cut in taxes, because I'm also going to be closing loopholes on deductions." So... is he going to cut taxes, or isn't he?
Romney has to give up: As Romney's own adviser admitted, says Matthew Yglesias at Slate, the candidate's plan has "a fatal flaw." It's "mathematically impossible" to dole out massive rate cuts without either increasing the deficit or saddling the middle class with a heavier tax burden through changes to the tax code. So what happens? "You stick to the promise of revenue neutrality and stick to the no-tax-hikes-on-the-middle-class pledge, and in that case you... just don't do much of anything."
"Romney campaign now says they probably won't do their tax cuts after all"
Romney has no reason to back down: We should applaud Romney, says Curtis Dubay at The Heritage Foundation. His "plan cuts marginal tax rates and reduces the tax bias on saving and investment," encouraging people to do pump money back into the economy. He offsets any revenue lost by eliminating tax credits and exemptions, broadening the tax base without increasing the share paid by the lower- and middle-class. That's not impossible. It's what "sensible tax reform" is supposed to do.
"Romney's tax plan doesn't have to raise taxes on the middle class"
Romney's plan is too vague to judge: Romney is full of promises, says Kenneth T. Walsh at U.S. News & World Report, vowing to slash taxes for the wealthy and middle class while eliminating regulations that hurt businesses. But what deductions will he scrap to pay for it? Where are the details? Without them, "Romney is taking the same approach as Obama in asking voters to trust him to take the correct course." His fuzziness is only damaging his "credibility as a problem-solver on the economy."
"Obama, Romney dodging specifics"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The mystery behind China's aggressive push into space
- The best places to find love — and lust — according to science
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- The 5 best and worst states for a well-lived life
- The 11 worst fast food restaurants in America
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- The 6 best low-cost smartphones
- How the battle for religious freedom became a nonsensical free-for-all
- Boyhood's refreshingly unsentimental take on motherhood
Subscribe to the Week