Conservatives Try To Paint Radical Ryan Budget As A Moderate Proposal

Rich Lowry, the editor of conservative magazine National Review, appeared on a Meet The Press roundtable this morning to defend vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) widely panned budget plan as a moderate solution built upon the foundations of the Bowles-Simpson tax proposal, which both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have opposed.

Responding to charges that Romney’s plan cuts taxes for the wealthiest Americans, Lowry tried to deflect criticism by saying that the Romney/Ryan plan is really a version of Bowles-Simpson:

LOWRY: Democrats always refer to it as a tax cut. but it’s not a tax cut. It’s designed to be revenue neutral. It’s based on the template of the Bowles-Simpson plan, which has been subject to bipartisan acclaim, and the 1986 tax reform which was one of the great bipartisan accomplishments in this town over the last 30 years. And if you study the effects of that ’86 tax reform, which lowered rates and closed loopholes, it actually increased the share that the rich were paying. So this is not some fantasy.

But as fellow panelist Rachel Maddow was quick to point out, if the architect of the Romney/Ryan budget is such an admirer of Bowles-Simpson, he has a funny way of showing it: Paul Ryan voted against Bowles-Simpson, and helped blow up the so-called “Gang of Six” that was responsible for proposing a deficit-reduction budget.

Watch the exchange:

While it’s true that Bowles-Simpson would lower the marginal tax rates for the wealthiest Americans, it would also increase tax revenue across the board by an estimated $1 trillion by upholding the estate tax and levying hefty taxes on capital gains and dividends at the same rates as income, a proposal strongly opposed by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

Still, Lowry’s assertion echoed recent similar arguments from Romney and his campaign’s surrogates, which have tried to paint its own tax plan as a moderate solution to the nation’s debt. During the primaries, Romney outlined his tax plan by saying he would “move our tax system in the direction of the Bowles-Simpson Commission’s recommendations.” And last week, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page also tried to tie Romney’s tax plan to Bowles-Simpson. But Forbes Magazine — headed by editor in chief Steve Forbes, a vocal Romney surrogate and supporter — called the comparison “absurd.”