Before we get into today’s story, can I just say that the Obama-Biden campaign’s counter-rebuttal to Vice President Biden’s “buried” line was almost worse than the line itself? Except for those who vote Democratic reflexively, nobody will listen to their excuse that “the middle class was punished by the failed Bush policies that crashed our economy.” That was before the last four years, and voters are thinking about the last four years. Accept it. End rant.
Now then! I’m sure all you armchair wonks were very disappointed with the other campaign’s decision to be vague in public about their tax proposals. Their excuse is that they don’t want to be too our-way-or-the-highway with Congress before they take office. I’m going to skip reminding them that they can always make changes later to introduce the newest example of said vagueness, brought to you by former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) himself: the $17,000 tax deduction bucket.
The technical term is deduction cap, but bucket is a fun word and Romney was the first to use it, so we’re going with it. Households would be able to fill that bucket with up to $17K in tax deductions, in addition to personal exemptions, with an exception for health care-related deductions. Romney hinted that $17K is just a suggested number and higher-income households might have less wiggle room than that.
It’s an intriguing idea, I admit, but as the real wonks quoted in the above link tell us, there are many, many red flags to knock over first. For example: What happens if someone has mortgage interest over $17K? What will happen to charitable donations if there’s less room to claim tax exemptions on them? How can this campaign prove its claims that this proposal will be deficit-neutral, economically positive and enough to eliminate the need for marginal rate increases? Haven’t they considered that only a third of taxpayers submit itemized lists of deductions? What about the impact on sole proprietorships and partnerships, in which owners file individually?
I’ll throw out a few red flags of my own: How much more money will be wasted on all the extra paperwork this will create? Have they controlled for differences in state and local taxes? What level of economic growth will be needed for this proposal to be effective? How will a Romney administration accomplish that? Where the hell did you get $17K (bearing in mind that “out of my ass” is not an acceptable answer)?
Here are the real reasons they’re not bothering with the math: 1. They clearly haven’t done it themselves yet. 2. They think voters don’t get it. However, they do get “CBO estimates [impressive rate] of growth under Romney tax plan.” And you can’t get an estimate like that without some math.