Paul Ryan, in an appearance on Fox News Sunday, told Chris Wallace that he “did not have the time” to explain how the Romney tax plan was “revenue neutral”. In fact Ryan refused to even say what the number was that would need to be made up to be revenue neutral. A little bit of explanation.
The Romney plan calls for a 20% across the board tax cut, with the loss of revenue being made up by the elimination of “tax breaks”. When he does discuss it Romney has a tendency to say that the tax breaks to be eliminated will be ones largely utilized by upper income taxpayers. What he never says is what tax breaks, and what income level would be impacted. Hence the Democratic charge that Romney will eliminate tax preferences that largely benefit the middle class, and in so doing raise taxes on that category. The argument has gotten a bit wonky, with even Romney supporters conceding that to make the numbers work the definition of middle class needs to be lowered. I think all agree that even if you stretch it a bit taxpayers earning between $100,000 and $200,000 would be in for a tax increase under the “Romney plan”. Want the best back and forth on this? Check out Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog over at the Washington Post.
Before you can even get to the point where we argue about elimination of tax breaks to “pay” for the tax cuts there has to be some agreement on how much we will have to make up. What is the cost of the Romney plan? In the clip Chris Wallace does not even get an opportunity to ask about the disagreements on the supporting math of tax break eliminations. He simply asked how much the Romney plan will cost as a starting point. Can’t really argue about the tax breaks until we agree on how much it is that we need to make up. Ryan will not even estimate THAT number, pointedly refusing to even give an estimate of cost to the Romney plan. He just says that there is “not enough time”.
It is quite clear that the Romney numbers simply don’t work, both from a math perspective and especially from a political perspective. Hammering income earners between $100,000 and $200,000 to provide tax breaks for folks above that, in my opinion, can’t be sold to anyone, including Republicans. You can expect the President to ask Mitt Romney to make time for the explanation at the first debate this week. No time for you will not be acceptable as a response!
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