Mitt Romney proudly touted his updated tax plan proposals all through Wednesday, but there was one man who really wasn’t happy with what he was hearing: Rush Limbaugh.
The high priest of the conservative right assailed Romney for having described his plans in terms that could come straight from the mouth of an Occupy Wall Street protester.
During a campaign stop in Arizona, Romney proposed an across-the-board cut of 20% for every income bracket. To offset this he proposed limiting “deductions and exemptions particularly for high income folks.”
“[F]or middle income families,” Romney went on, “the deductibility of home mortgage interest and charitable contributions will continue. But for high income folks, we are going to cut back on that, so we make sure the top one percent pay their fair share or more.”
“One Percent?” “Fair share?” These words were enough to stir Limbaugh’s ire. Listen to what he had to say:
“It accepts this “one percent/ ninety-nine percent” premise that Obama has put forward in his class envy scheme,” Limbaugh thundered. “But apparently Romney’s advisers think that there is ground to be gained with the ninety-nine percent by portraying himself as being on their side and against the one percent,” he continued.
With crushing kindness, Limbaugh did concede that he could see some tactical advantage in Romney’s words. “In this climate with Occupy out there,” Limbaugh intoned, “he does want to avoid at all costs the allegation sticking that he’s a rich guy favoring the rich.”
And so, Limbaugh concluded, Romney’s “advisers” had decided that their apparently pliable candidate must “let it be known that the one percent are not going to be allowed to get away with anything, even under a Romney regime.”
The irony here is that despite Romney’s embrace of Occupy-tinged language, it’s far from clear that his tax plan goes the same way. Indeed, even as Limbaugh raged that the one percent would in effect keep their “35 percent” rate under Romney’s plan, TPM’s Benjy Sarlin was observing that this was not clearly the case.
Even if you just look at Romney’s line that so irked Limbaugh, you’ll see there’s plenty of ambiguity. “We [will] make sure the top one percent pay their fair share or more,” Romney said. But how do you define “fair share”? And, as a noted tax expert observed to the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, “If you reduce the whole thing by 20 percent then they can go down by 20 percent and still pay the same share.”
So, perhaps Limbaugh doesn’t need to hyperventilate after all. However, should Romney make it to November, then he (and his “advisers”) might find that having Rush Limbaugh castigate you for not being soft on the mega-rich might not be so bad after all.