Candidate Ryan restores specificity!


Mathematical impossibility too: An interesting number returned to the discourse last night.

That number is twenty percent. Does Candidate Romney still intend to lower all federal income tax rates by twenty percent? While keeping the whole shebang revenue neutral by eliminating loopholes/deductions?

In August, the Tax Policy Center said it’s “mathematically impossible” to do such a thing without raising taxes on the middle class. Not long ago, at least one Romney surrogate seemed to be walking back the size of that cut in tax rates. Romney himself hasn’t seemed to be mentioning that "twenty percent" number lately.

But last night, twenty percent was back! Martha Raddatz mentioned it first. Candidate Ryan repeatedly seconded the emotion:
RYAN (10/11/12): What we are saying is, lower tax rates across the board and close loopholes, primarily to the higher-income people. We have three bottom lines: Don't raise the deficit, don't raise taxes on the middle class, and don't lower the share of income that is borne by the high-income earners.

He'll keep saying this “$5 trillion plan,” I suppose. It's been discredited by six other studies. And even their own deputy campaign manager acknowledged that it wasn't correct.

RADDATZ: Well, let's talk about this 20 percent. You have refused—and, again—to offer specifics on how you pay for that 20 percent across-the-board tax cut. Do you actually have the specifics? Or are you still working on it, and that's why you won't tell voters?


RYAN: What we're saying is, here's our framework. Lower tax rates 20 percent. We raise about $1.2 trillion through income taxes. We forego about $1.1 trillion in loopholes and deductions. And so what we're saying is, deny those loopholes and deductions to higher-income taxpayers so that more of their income is taxed, which has a broader base of taxation so we can lower tax rates across the board.


RYAN: What we're saying is, lower tax rates 20 percent, start with the wealthy, work with Congress to do it—

RADDATZ: And you guarantee this math will add up?

RYAN: Absolutely. Six studies have guaranteed—six studies have verified that this math adds up.
Just for the record, six studies have not verified that this math adds up. And Ryan’s statements in that second large chunk don’t really make seem to sense. (For one thing, it sounds like he’s saying that “higher-income taxpayers” will end up paying more under Romney’s plan. Romney has never said that.)

Raddatz let all that go. But Ryan repeatedly affirmed the idea that Romney would reduce all income tax rates by that ballyhooed twenty percent.

We mention this for a reason. At last week’s debate, Jim Lehrer didn’t confirm that number with Romney. A few days later, Romney did an interview with Wolf Blitzer. Blitzer pretended to question Romney’s proposal, but he didn’t bother confirming that one specific part of the plan.

Romney can always disavow Ryan's statement. We wouldn't be surprised if he did. But twenty percent was back last night. If that remains Romney’s intention, that would restore the mathematical impossibility of doing what has been proposed.

It’s been a long time since anyone confirmed with Romney that he stands by that twenty percent rate cut. Maybe someone should check this out with the Mittster next Tuesday night.


  1. "Twenty percent" never went anywhere to come back from, as your loyal readers have been trying to tell you for quite some time now.

    It was the figure that was up on the Romney Web site before the Oct. 3 debate, it was the figure that was up after the Oct. 3 debate, and it's the figure that is still up there today.

    So no, Bob. It will be quite hard for Romney to "disavow Ryan's statement."

    "It’s been a long time since anyone confirmed with Romney that he stands by that twenty percent rate cut. Maybe someone should check this out with the Mittster next Tuesday night."

    Or maybe, instead of pretending he has walked back from it, you yourself could look at Romney's own Web site.

  2. I thought Raddatz did push Ryan fairly well on this issue. She asked Ryan 2 or 3 times if he could explain what loopholes and deductions he would eliminate and he never did. There's only so much she could do. Am I the only one who noticed? Also, I've recently picked up on what Romney & Ryan are saying - they are not saying that the amount of taxes the wealthy will pay will stay the same; they are saying the percentage of total taxes the wealthy will pay will stay the same. This seems to say that the wealthy will pay less taxes, but the percentage of the total taxes paid by them will stay the same. There are so many holes in this it is astounding. Also Ryan is clealy lying about the 6 studies saying this could be done (though it might not be politically smart to use the word "lie"); I read the Professor Rosen essay,which is the main refutation of the TPC report. Rosen only says that it might be possible, if the economy grows enough, and depending on a lot of variables, that the Romney plan will be not increase the deficit without increasing taxes on the middle class. Ryan is plain lying in characterizing the Rosen study as he does.

    Also missing is that the Grover Norquist crew that has taken over the Republican party want to eliminate the welfare state. The more taxes are cut, the more imperative it will become to chop down every program the government pays for except the military.

    The debates, the election campaign, the coverage by the media is Kafkaesque theater of the absurd, as exemplified by the focus on body language in the debate. The debates might shed some light to some people, though I wonder to what extent it is any different for the average citizen listening to these debates than if they were listening to 2 physicists having a debate about quantum mechanics.

    AC in MA

  3. Why do you care what Romney says? He'll just contradict it as soon as it's expedient for him to do so, and you, apparently, will treat his statements today and his contradictions of it tomorrow as equally important. Stop being a rube.

    1. Isn't that the truth? Somerby has awarded points to Romney for obfuscating his tax plan, which is the lynchpin to his entire economic plan.

      Now to me, pundits who think it is perfectly OK for candidates to say different things on different days to different audiences and think they should only be judged by what comes out of their mouth last, and further, that their opponents are somehow wrong for pointing out the discrepancies between then and now, are far more dangerous to the "American discourse" than a columnist who keeps writing about a dog on the car roof.

  4. The twenty candidates romney information is new to me.The discussion about lower rate taxes is very precious and needed one for whole people who suffers this problem already.I appreciate your effort.And i need more post like this.
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  5. All the questions about Romney's 20% tax cut and how it will work are answered in a book: "The Magic Pudding", by Norman Lindsay.

  6. Romney is running new commercials promising a 20% tax cut for everyone. Kinda hard to miss.

  7. He will stick to 20% and everyone including his own voters will know it won't be 20%. People have watched as Obama's "specifics" failed the country and failed to come out as promised, and they hope Romney's lack of specifics represent a skilled and successful businessman's practical approach to fixing problems.


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