Mitt Romney seemingly walked back his support of his own tax plan last night at the first presidential debate, telling President Obama and the American people that he would “absolutely not” support a plan that cuts taxes on the wealthy, raises taxes on the middle class, or adds to the federal budget deficit. Independent analyses have found that it is mathematically impossible for Romney’s plan, as written, to avoid either adding to the deficit or raising taxes on the middle class. And Romney himself said at a debate in February that he was “going to cut taxes on everyone across the country by 20 percent, including the top 1 percent.”
After President Obama cited a report from the Tax Policy Center showing that Romney’s plan couldn’t uphold his three principles, Romney said he would not support such a plan, then reiterated the same three principles:
So — so if — if the tax plan he described were a tax plan I was asked to support, I’d say absolutely not. I’m not looking for a $5 trillion tax cut. What I’ve said is I won’t put in place a tax cut that adds to the deficit. That’s part one. So there’s no economist can say Mitt Romney’s tax plan adds $5 trillion if I say I will not add to the deficit with my tax plan.
Number two, I will not reduce the share paid by high-income individuals. … I will not reduce the taxes paid by high-income Americans.
And number three, I will not, under any circumstances, raise taxes on middle-income families. I will lower taxes on middle-income families.
Watch the two remarks:
The first problem is obvious: Romney’s plan is a clearly defined tax cut for the wealthy. Even if he closed every loophole that benefits the wealthy, he wouldn’t generate enough revenue to make up for the rate reduction he would give them, and even if he does increase the share the wealthy pay, that doesn’t mean they won’t still end up with a tax cut.
The second problem is that the other two principles of his tax plan are mathematically incompatible, as the Tax Policy Center study Obama cited proved. There is not enough revenue to be gained from closing loopholes that only target the rich to make up the lost revenue from Romney’s rate cut, so if he were to uphold his principal point of not adding to the deficit, he would have to raise taxes on middle class families by as much as $2,000. If he were to maintain his third most important point and avoid raising taxes on the middle class, he would add a significant amount to the deficit. It is simply impossible to do both.