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.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.)
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.
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.