A new study describing Mitt Romney’s tax cut proposals as an average tax increase for 95% of Americans is “a joke,” according to Romney adviser Eric Ferhnstrom. But policy aides offered no indication they plan to offer more details on Romney’s plan in order to clarify how it would be paid for and what they assume its effects would be.
The Romney camp has decried the report by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center as “biased,” suggesting that their own expectations are that an explosion of economic growth thanks to their policies will make up any revenue gaps in the plan that indicate it will be a drag on middle class Americans.
But asked on a conference call whether the Romney campaign would offer up any more details on how they believe their plan would work instead, policy adviser Jonathan Burks demurred, saying it would be up to Congress to help fill in the blanks.
“The governor’s plan essentially lays out the parameters that he wants to achieve: lowering the tax rate by 20 percent, achieving revenue neutrality, and maintaining progressivity and within that he would write a tax plan that achieves those goals,” he said. “So, it’s not a question of ‘today we have a 2000 page tax plan that could be scored.’”
Working within the broad goals Burks outlined, the Tax Policy Center concluded there simply was no way to keep Romney’s plan “progressive” and “revenue neutral” without majorly reducing tax deductions that benefit the vast majority of Americans. They added that this held true even if they took Romney’s word and imagined that his plan would spark higher growth than expected.
Kevin Hassett, another adviser, said the campaign assumed the Romney plan would be a net gain for the middle class because it would create “5 to 10 million” jobs, but again offered no new information as to how the Romney campaign arrived at its number and what percentage of their plan they expect to be paid for by a hypothetical Romney boom.
“The fact is if you’re going to create jobs you’re going to have an enormously positive impact on income distribution, because people who have incomes of 0 will get a job,” he said,
The Obama campaign has made the study a centerpiece of their campaign this week, with President Obama highlighting it in a speech within hours of its release. On Thursday morning, they revealed a new television ad based on the report and debuted a new “tax calculator” on their website in which users can see how much more in taxes they’d pay under Romney based on the Tax Policy Center’s conclusions.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.