Where was the rest of his story: In this morning’s New York Times, Tom Friedman lodged a complaint about Mitt Romney’s intentions.
Friedman is a determined centrist. Perhaps for that reason, he only told half the story:
FRIEDMAN (9/5/12): Mitt Romney has been criticized for not discussing foreign policy. Give him a break. He probably figures he’s already said all that he needs to say during the primaries: He has a big stick, and he is going to use it on Day 1. Or as he put it: “If I’m president of the United States...on Day 1, I will declare China a currency manipulator, allowing me to put tariffs on products where they are stealing American jobs unfairly.”Is Friedman right in his highlighted supposition? We don’t really do foreign policy here. For that reason, we don’t express a view on the unpleasant thing Friedman said.
That is really cool. Smack China on Day 1. I just wonder what happens on Day 2 when China, the biggest foreign buyer of U.S. debt securities, announces that it will not participate in the next Treasury auction, sending our interest rates soaring. That will make Day 3 really, really cool. Welcome to the Romney foreign policy, which I’d call: “George W. Bush abroad—the cartoon version.”
I know Romney doesn’t believe a word he’s saying on foreign policy and that it’s all aimed at ginning up votes: there’s some China-bashing to help in the Midwest, some Arab-bashing to win over the Jews, some Russia-bashing (our “No. 1 geopolitical foe”) to bring in the Polish vote, plus a dash of testosterone to keep the neocons off his back.
What’s odd is that Romney was in a position to sound smart on foreign policy, not like a knee-jerk hawk...
But Friedman’s supposition makes sense to us, because it has become increasingly clear that Romney “doesn’t believe a word he said” in another major policy area—in his so-called tax proposal.
The proposal was made in February, at a tough time for its author in the Republican primaries. The proposal made Romney crazier-than-crazy, righter-than-right, in the tax cut arena. Romney said he would extend all the Bush tax rates—then cut those rates by twenty percent! This precise prescription for cuts in tax rates was accompanied by a very vague statement about elimination of unspecified tax deductions to keep the plan revenue neutral.
"In order to limit any impact on the deficit, because I do not want to add to the deficit, and also to make sure we continue to have progressivity in our tax code, I'm going to limit the deductions and exemptions, particularly for high-income folks," Romney thoughtfully said.
By now, it’s abundantly clear that this proposal never made any sense. It has been more than a month since the Tax Policy Center released its analysis of this proposal. In a 423-word news report, Friedman’s newspaper told the world what the analysis found:
RAMPELL (8/2/12): Plan Like Romney's Would Tax Rich LessGo ahead! See THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/3/12.
A tax system overhaul along the lines that Mitt Romney has proposed would give big tax cuts to high-income households and increase the tax burden on middle- and lower-income households, according to an analysis from economists at the Tax Policy Center.
The researchers did not analyze the exact Romney plan, since it is incomplete and the researchers were reluctant to make assumptions until the campaign released more details.
Instead they created a model for a revenue-neutral income tax change that incorporates some of Mr. Romney's proposals, which include lowering marginal tax rates, eliminating both the alternative minimum tax and taxation of investment income of most taxpayers, doing away with the estate tax and repealing the additional high-income taxes passed with the Affordable Care Act.
The Tax Policy Center analysis assumed that the first tax breaks to go would be those that primarily affected the highest earners.
But even if all possible loopholes for households earning more than $200,000 were eliminated, this group would still be a net gainer under Mr. Romney's plan, since the marginal tax rate decreases and other changes lop off much of its tax burden.
Long story extremely short: Romney’s ballyhooed tax proposal doesn’t make any sense. It never did make any sense. In the language of columnist Friedman:
Romney doesn’t believe a word he’s saying on tax policy. It was all aimed at ginning up votes.
Here’s the problem: Friedman doesn’t include that statement in this morning’s column. That statement would make a perfect companion to the statement we highlighted above.
But Friedman doesn’t create the link. Readers are kept from hearing that Romney doesn’t believe a word he’s saying in two major policy areas.
Why didn’t Friedman make the link? We have no idea. But Friedman’s newspaper has made little attempt to report the obvious problem with Romney's spur-of-the-moment tax plan.
On August 2, the Times devoted just those 423 words to the fact that the plan doesn’t make a lick of sense. At the time, Kevin Drum correctly said that the paper might do a fuller treatment later on.
It is now September 5. The New York Times hasn’t gone there.
You live in a country burdened with a Potemkin press corps. Newspapers like the New York Times pretend to be performing journalism. But Romney’s tax plan makes no earthly sense, and our greatest newspaper just keeps looking away.
Friedman had a nice lead today. He omitted (at least) half the story.
Notice from the accountants: Given the passage of time since August 2, our accountants say they expect prompt payment on what they regard as an implied $20 bet with the aformentioned Mr. Drum.
We have no view on such matters.