Hours after President Obama rolled out his plan to overhaul the U.S. tax code on Wednesday, Mitt Romney unveiled his own proposal, pledging to cut all individual tax rates by 20 percent, abolish the estate tax and alternative minimum tax, and reduce corporate taxes — all, he says, without adding to the deficit. Romney is angling to bring the focus of the Republican presidential race back to economic issues, and away from the social issues that have been fueling the surge of rival candidate Rick Santorum. And the former Massachusetts governor's tax-slashing plan "essentially endorses the goals of the pro-rich Right," says Jonathan Chait at New York. Will that help Mitt — or hurt him?
Mitt can win conservatives by going "the full Reagan": Romney's new plan isn't as "bold and aggressive" as those pitched by his GOP rivals, says James Pethokoukis at the American Enterprise Institute, but it has "a much better chance of actually being enacted by the next Congress." Conservatives who have been unwilling to accept Romney should take a second look: Between slashing taxes and spending and reforming entitlements, GOP nominee Romney "would certainly be running on the boldest GOP agenda since Reagan '80, maybe ever."
"New Romney tax plan goes the full Reagan"
But he may turn off middle-class Americans: The only way to make the numbers in Romney's murky plan add up, says Ezra Klein at The Washington Post, is for the huge tax cuts to be paid for by decimating government programs, like Medicaid, that serve the working class. If Mitt is serious about not adding to the deficit, a Romney presidency would mean "a massive redistribution — or perhaps it should be called a re-redistribution" — of wealth up to rich people like Romney. "Is that really the narrative they want" in this moment of populist fervor?
"'A narrative of... life under a Romney presidency'"
Sadly, voters don't care about tax policy: Personally, I think "there is much to be said for the new Romney tax proposal," says Reihan Salam at National Review. But "politically, I can't see how it helps him much." Jon Huntsman, Rick Perry, and Newt Gingrich all released tax plans with "eye-catchingly low rates," and it did little to help them with Republican voters. Romney's plan will be debated by wonks, and it may win him some plaudits, but "I'm just not sure it's going to change the dynamic of the race."
"So how should we interpret the new Romney tax plan?"