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Governor Romney Teases New Tax Plan Prior to Arizona Debate

Prepare yourselves, I am going to write something semi positive about policies that the Romney campaign happens to espouse today, at this hour*.

Today the Romney Campaign is rolling out their new tax plan. Tonight could be a great night for Romney in the debate. While Santorum may get lost in the weeds and off message with the social issues, Romney will be making a push to talk about his new tax plan. If Mitt can change the focus to the economy and lay out the details of his new tax plan, he can leave Santorum stumbling just before AZ and MI vote.

What Gov. Romney is saying in Chandler, AZ today sounds like it has potential. It isn’t a fundamental reform, but I think the whole package will probably look good and be pro growth for sure.

To that point, I consulted the Mouth of Sauron** on Willard’s tax plan, and it sounds pretty solid so far.

  • Make Permanent, Across-The-Board 20 Percent Cut In Marginal Rates, with Reagan’s 28% top rate.
  • Pro Growth cuts – 25% Corporate rate.
  • 15% Capital Gains for those making over $200,000
  • Base broadeners: See Bowles-Simpson
  • Change to a Territorial Tax system

Nothing extremely bold, but some solid reforms. I like that he felt free to steal the territorial tax system from the corpse of the Perry campaign. Of course there are some failures, like retaining the 15% cap gains for those making over $200,000. Despite Rubin’s argument to the contrary, that tax cut is largely meaningless and, more importantly, it takes the battle off our turf validating the class division argument in the process.

Additionally, it seems there is still an unwillingness by Gov. Romney to address Social Security spending in any meaningful way. While the plan calls for repeal of Obamacare, block grants for Medicaid, and premium support for Medicare, Social Security gets an uninspired retirement age increase and is indexed to inflation.

The most concerning part of this plan, and the roll out of it, isn’t even in the plan. In her glorified piece of campaign literature, Rubin dropped this troublesome line:

Romney, unlike some who back flat tax proposals, does not want to see the tax system become less progressive.

Again, Team Romney is clearly on the wrong turf here***. This is still a primary, and he is still trying to be the Republican nominee. You can’t go out and say things like this when most Republicans are for a flattening of the progressive curve, if not an actual flat tax.

And this isn’t an isolated incident either. By way of Zeke Miller of Buzz Feed, we see Romney himself engaging in even more blatant acts of class warfare while also accepting the premise that tax policy should be about enforcing fairness:

“And by the way, I want to make sure you understand that, for middle income families, 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 1% pay their fair share or more.

snip

The principle of fairness must be preserved in federal tax and spending policy,” his campaign said in a press release. He and Democrats, of course, have a different definition of the term.

Again, the man is fighting on the wrong turf and validating the arguments of his foes. This does not bode well.

I won’t complain too much though, it isn’t a bad plan, it is much better than Obama’s plan – noted by Daniel Horowitz here, and at least it isn’t 59 points.

Gov. Romney has a chance to lead tonight and force a pivot back to the economy, jobs, and tax reform. He has a plan that works and can be explained in the limited time allotted in a debate. The only question is whether Mitt can take command of the debate and make the pitch. If he can’t do that, then he’ll affirm my suspicions that he is actually a weak leader who has benefited more from privilege than actual tenacity, knowledge, and grit.

Aaron B. Gardner

P.S. It really does say something that the Washington Post’s go to person for the Conservative perspective is so comfortable defending the progressive tax system. I shouldn’t be surprised by Rubin’s actions though, when one gladly throws SoCons under the bus Fiscons aren’t usually far behind. Jenn Rubin should drop the act and save us all a lot of trouble.

* I am sure this will change.

** Jenn Rubin is a surrogate for Team Romney, this really isn’t up for dispute.

*** Yes, I know those are Rubin’s words, refer to the above note.

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