Romney will pretty much leave the tax system and government spending the way they are. After four or eight years of Romney, Obama's changes in spending and taxes will pretty much be locked in. Romney just wants to be president and wants to cut the difference between the two parties. But I think that in the general election he will be attacked mercilessly for his flip-flops. I suppose that similar attacks can be made against Obama, that he is even more left wing than he promised. Paul Gigot at the WSJ's Political Diary nails Romney here:
If you want to know why Mitt Romney is leading the GOP presidential race, you could do worse than consider his response to moderator John Harwood's tax reform question at CNBC's Wednesday night debate. Mr. Harwood tried to pin the former Massachusetts governor down by pointing out that, among the GOP candidates, he was the only one who didn't have a tax reform plan.
Question: "You don't have a flat tax. You're proposing to preserve the Bush-era tax rates. What is wrong with the idea that we should go to one rate? Why do you believe in a progressive tax system?"
Mr. Romney blew right past that question to hit his talking points:
"Well, I would like to see our tax rates flatter," he said. "I'd like to see our code simpler. I'd like to see the special breaks that we have in the code taken out. That's one of the reasons why I'd take the corporate rate from 35 [percent] down to 25, is to take out some of the special deals that are there.
"With regards to our tax code, what I want to do is to take our precious dollars as a nation and focus them on the people in this country that have been hurt the most, and that's the middle class. The Obama economy has really crushed middle-income Americans. This president has failed us so badly. We have 26 million people out of work or in part-time jobs, that need full-time work or have stopped looking for work altogether. Median incomes have dropped 10% in the last three years. At the same time, gasoline prices are up, food prices are up, health-care costs are up. And so what I want to do is help the people who've been hurt the most. And that's the middle class. And so what I do is focus a substantial tax break on middle-income Americans."
Now, there is a professional at work: Dodge the flat-tax debate, pivot to a whack at President Obama, and stress that you share the aspirations of tax reform but first we must cut taxes on "the middle class," who happen to be most voters.
This obscures the fact that Mr. Romney is only proposing to cut capital gains and dividend taxes on those Americans, most of whom don't have many capital gains or dividends. He isn't proposing to cut their income taxes, though he skillfully left the impression that he is. And in cutting taxes only for the "middle-class," Mr. Romney is also accepting Mr. Obama's definition of "the rich." As for reform, how will we get a flatter, simpler system if the GOP nominee won't make the case for it? . . .
Labels: Romney, Taxes