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realclearworld

Weeds

Obama is back out on the campaign trail.

He is attacking Governor Romney, and the rest of the DNC rat pack is echoing the talking points. Even Rolling Stone Magazine is chiming in on the subject:

The First Debate: Mitt Romney's Five Biggest Lies - The truth behind that $5 trillion tax cut, pre-existing conditions and more
By Tim Dickinson
October 4, 2012 9:32 AM ET

Mitt Romney turned in a polished performance in last night's presidential debate – and revealed himself to be an accomplished and unapologetic liar. In an evening where he sought to slice and dice the president with statistics, Romney baldly misrepresented his own policy prescriptions, made up numbers to fit his attacks and buried clear contrasts with the president under a heaping pile of horseshit.

Here are mendacious Mitt's five most outrageous statements:

1. "I don't have a $5 trillion tax cut." Romney flatly lied about the cost of his proposal to cut income-tax rates across the board by another 20 percent (undercutting even the low rates of the Bush tax cuts). Independent economists at the Tax Policy Center have shown that the price tag for those cuts is $360 billion in the first year, a cost that extrapolates to $5 trillion over a decade.

The biggest problem that your run-of-the-mill voter in the US has, is a failing attention span which causes them to slip into a "flight or flee syndrome" stance the moment that any knowledable individual starts getting into the minutiae of Romney's plan. So, it's easy for Obama to come up with a catch phrase and a round figure that just sounds.."right".

From the Denver debate:

OBAMA: Well, for 18 months he's been running on this tax plan. And now, five weeks before the election, he's saying that his big, bold idea is, "Never mind."

And the fact is that if you are lowering the rates the way you described, Governor, then it is not possible to come up with enough deductions and loopholes that only affect high-income individuals to avoid either raising the deficit or burdening the middle class. It's -- it's math. It's arithmetic.

Perhaps, Governor Romney should have pointed out that the fact that President Obama was unable to understand how the plan would work, did not actually mean that it couldn't.

On the campaign trail, Obama continues his "$5 trillion tax cut for the wealthy" story line, going as far as calling Governor Romney a liar:

(CNN) -- A day after losing the first presidential debate, President Barack Obama and his campaign accused his Republican challenger Mitt Romney of being dishonest about tax policy and other issues.

"If you want to be president, you owe the American people the truth," Obama said at a campaign rally Thursday in Denver. "So here's the truth: Governor Romney cannot pay for his $5 trillion tax plan without blowing up the deficit or sticking it to the middle class. That's the math."

In my book, if you say that someone is not telling the truth, you are calling that person a liar.

Yet, the only liar here (surprise!) seems to be President Obama...I know you're shocked.

The details behind Romney's plan, the flaws in the TPC report that Obama continues to use in his stump speeches, and the obvious lie continually repeated by the President and his MSM enablers is exposed when one examines the details of the story.

The best explanation that I've found on the subject calls that, getting into the "weeds" of the plan:

Obama claims the Romney tax plan is a $5 trillion tax cut. However, according to the TPC study (which he endorses and utilizes as the foundation of his claim), the annual cost of Romney's 20 percent across-the-board marginal tax cuts is $360 billion. Now, if you multiply that by 10 years (as Obama does), then you get a total 10-year tax cut cost of $3.6 trillion - not the $5 trillion claimed by Obama. So, Obama is misleading the folks from the start...and this is based on absolutely NO tax expenditure reductions or any of those factors ignored by the TPC assumptions.

Now, the TPC study states that tax expenditure reductions (e.g., tax credits, breaks and loopholes) under the Romney tax plan could potentially amount to $551 billion in increased tax revenues annually. Thus, technically, Romney's plan is not only revenue neutral...it's revenue positive!"

The "weeds" of the flaw lies in a number of assumptions and omissions in the report:

"...under certain assumptions, any revenue-neutral plan along the lines Governor Romney has outlined would reduce taxes for high-income households, thus requiring higher taxes on other, even if the plan's financing is as progressive as possible, given the available tax expenditures.

The key phrases in that sentence are "under certain assumptions", and "absent any base broadening" as the Return to Common Sense blog points out.

The assumptions made by the Tax Policy Center in their analysis of the Romney tax plan are:

      No spending cuts would be used to off-set reduced tax revenue.
      Marginal tax rate reductions would result in minimal, if any, microeconomic revenue growth.
      No macroeconomic growth would be considered.
      Two key tax expenditures worth a combined $45 billion were "off the table."
      The Romney tax plan must pay for repealing Obamacare's tax hikes.

You may recall this little tidbit from President Obama during the debate last week:

“I’ve put forward a specific $4 trillion deficit-reduction plan. It’s on a website. You can look at all the numbers, what cuts we make and what revenue we raise.”

Well, that bastion of right-wing conservatism, ABC News has this to say about Obama's claim:

Does President Obama have a plan to cut the deficit by $4 trillion?

No.

The “$4 trillion plan” he is referring to includes about $1 trillion Congress has already agreed to and $1 trillion in savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are already ending.
This would be Mostly Fiction.

Greg Krieg has the facts:

The $4 trillion figure achieved a certain status in Washington when the much-disputed, ultimately ignored, Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction commission pegged it as the cuts their proposals would have yielded over ten years.

So does Obama manage to get there on his own?

The first $1 trillion in cuts are already on the books. As he noted in his speech, the president negotiated them with Congress last summer. More cuts are banked by letting the Bush tax cuts expire (the top marginal rate would return to 39.5 percent from 35 percent) and closing a number of arcane loopholes, all of which, in theory, would have a multiplier effect as the resulting interest payments on the national debt would be lessened.

Then there’s the issue of military spending. The Congressional Budget Office has already worked nearly a trillion dollars of war expenses into its long-term deficit projections. President Obama, by ending the war in Iraq and winding combat operations in Afghanistan (by 2014), is subtracting that as-yet-unspent money from the future debt load.

In fact, and as the Return to Common Sense article points out:

" (Obama)...proudly boasted at the Colorado debate that he had a $4 trillion deficit-reducing program. "It's on a website," he stated, "and you can see the numbers." Now, that plan is completely bogus; however, just for the sake of the argument, let's assume that it is entirely legit. His plan is over a ten-year period, meaning it would reduce spending by $400 billion a year - more than the entire annual cost of the Romney tax plan. Obama defeats his own argument.

Just with the spending cuts proposed by a radically-liberal President alone, the Romney plan would be entirely revenue neutral (without a single tax expenditure reduction) and the economy would roar back to life."

Your run-of-the-mill voter, would have fallen asleep about one quarter of the way down this blog entry, choosing instead to believe the sound bytes and slogans they hear on TV, or see on a billboard.

Sadly, these people will never get beyond the ads and the headline, and they will never put in the necessary effort to gain an understanding of the basis facts of this complex issue.

8 comments to Weeds

  • Honey

    As long as Republicans allow the left to go unanswered on the false formulation, "If you cut taxes how will you pay for them?", we can never win any debate.
    It has been proven time and time again that if you cut tax rates, you do not have to "pay" for them because if you make a tax burden easier on earners and businesses, the economy grows and the government, unfortunately, makes more money, not less, so there is nothing anyone has to "pay" for.
    I always wonder why our side doesn't answer this at once and forcefully. The left always distorts saying Reagan cut taxes and we still had big deficits. This is also based on misinformation. Reagan cut taxes, the government made more money big time, and congress spent even more than the extra money the government took in so we had deficits.
    And this business of Clinton taking credit for "his" excellent economy steams me. That was, ahem, Armey and Gingrich's economy, excuse me.
    Romney did mention growth eventually in the debate. But how I wish at least one debater on our side (Ryan are you listening?) would at once put the kibosh on letting the left keep getting away with this. As soon as Biden says, if you cut taxes how will you pay for it or some variation of that, stop him in his tracks, please.

  • That entire notion irritates the Hell out of me.

    The whole "pay for tax cuts" thing or my other favorite one, tax cuts being described as "giving" taxpayers money.

    Government no longer concerns itself with how they will pay for government, an our biggest entitlement program today is the government itself, a government that believes itself entitled to any amount of monies from the taxpayers, to do with that money as they see fit, and to spend in any way they wish to spend it.

    Sales professionals understand one basic concept: you will make more profit when you sell to someone who is spending someone else's money, then you will when you sell to a person spending their own. Government secures its own existence and well-being by spending other people's money, and they ONLY thing they will ever effectively do, is spend more, and more of it.

  • Honey

    How about the leftist idea that the new definition of investment is when the government steals from you and then spends it on things you don't want it to?
    When a private citizen tries to invest his own money in what he wants to, that is called greed.
    We could make up a whole new dictionary.

  • mattmurphy

    Honey: There is a book by Thomas Sowell depicting a chart straight out of the Statistical Abstract of the United States dealing with government tax receipts and expenditures.

    Basically, the government started taking in piles of dough early in Reagan's first term, and the numbers kept getting "better" every year through the rest of Reagan's administration. The difficulty, of course, was that the government spent money commensurate with what they were taking in taxes.

    And yet people say his tax cuts starved Uncle Sam. It's remarkable -- even conservatives repeat this sort of language when speaking about him. It's a kind of political urban myth.

  • mattmurphy

    Honey: Incidentally, I didn't mean to steal your argument...(looking over my comment I see I essentially repeated what you said)...I'm just noting that there are statistics out there that very much support your case.

  • Honey

    Steal away, mattmurphy. I wish Republicans would steal this when they debated.

  • mattmurphy

    I should correct what I wrote above: The chart from the Sowell book, it turned out, used data from Budget of the United States Government: Historical Tables, and not the Statistical Abstract of the United States.

    I would suggest comparing and contrasting with the budgets the Democrats have produced in recent years, but of course they just haven't passed any.

  • mattmurphy

    Also, perhaps my language was imprecise about the tax-receipt amounts increasing "every" year...it dipped from 1982 to 1983, but then increased through 1988. The government was awash in cash -- we just spent it.