18 September, 2012
Romney's plans for taxes and Social Security: exposing the Obama lies
We're being deluged here in Iowa- and I assume those in other "swing states are being similarly inundated- with multiple Obama ads claiming, among other things, that Mitt Romney plans to increase the taxes of the middle class by $2,000 a head; to use the proceeds to fund a huge "tax break for his fellow millionaires;" and to institute a voucher program in place of Social Security that would force receipients to pay thousands of dollars more out of their own pockets.
Well, those claims are lies. Not spin. Not exaggeration.
Here are the facts.
Mitt Romney's tax plan is the soul of simplicity: give everybody a 20% tax cut. He makes no distinction whatsoever between the middle class and the rich. At the same time, Romney would pay for this by eliminating most deductions, but preserving those for savings and investment. He specifically promises to retain the current tax code for progressivity.
No special tax cut goes to the rich. Nor are taxes increased on the middle class. Rather, everybody gets a 20% cut.
But a non-partisan outfit called the Tax Policy Center examined the plan and concluded that there is no way he could pull it off. It explicitly denies that it has ever claimed that Romney would raise anybody's taxes (it also took a second look at Romney's proposal with more detailed information about how it would treat the tax exemption for interest on municiple bonds- it had assumed, wrongly, that Romney would let it stand- and concluded that the plan would come a great deal closer to working than it initially had thought).
The Obama campaign took those initial, flawed findings and went berserk with them. It proclaimed that because the numbers didn't come out even, Romney's plan "would raise taxes on 95 percent of Americans," and even put a calculator on its website to show how much "Romney's plan" would "raise your taxes." The blatently dishonest TV ads being shown in Iowa and other swing states indulge in an even wilder exercise in pure fantasy in claiming that Romney would raise taxes on middle class households by an that alleged average of $2,000 a year! It cites the Tax Policy Institute as its authority.
Keep in mind that the Tax Policy Institute study which the ads cite has not only been revised and comes out much closer to the arithmetic of the Romney campaign, but specifically disavows the notion that it ever said that Romney would raise anybody's taxes!
The Obama claim that Romney's plan would raise taxes on the middle class is, quite simply, an outright lie. The numbers it cites are pure fiction.
Romney's selection of Paul Ryan, a member of the Simpson-Bowles Commission, aka the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (a panel appointed by President Obama to examine ways to eliminate the deficit, and whose recommendations he chose to disregard), had earlier come up with a plan to replace Social Security with an economically more viable voucher system. Thoughtful Americans of all political stripes recognize the need to reform the Social Security program so as to guarantee that its benefits are available to future senior citizens, and no thoughtful person doubts either that benefits will eventually have to shrink or that entitlements across the board are going to have to be cut if the Federal government- and thus those very programs- are going to remain solvent.
David Axelrod, the Chicago pol who is to President Obama more or less what Karl Rove was to George W. Bush, was apparently the first to view Ryan's original proposal (which is NOT the Romney-Ryan plan of the present) and conclude, with an exceptionally heavy dose of spin, that it would raise the medical costs of seniors by an average of $64,000!
The liberal Washington Post (!) takes the Obama campaign to task for that particular whopper here.
In fact, Ryan's revised proposal- the one Romney has endorsed- would allow seniors to choose between a plan provided by and paid for by the Federal government, or one provided by a private company and heavily subsidized by the Federal government. Private sector options would be limited to providers offering the same benefits Social Security presently offers. The government would pay the entire premium of the second-cheapest bid. There would be no charge whatsoever accruing to the senior citizen who chose even the private sector option providing he or she did not elect a more expensive plan providing the same or better benefits than Social Security presently offers.
Any senior citizen who chose a more expensive plan (presumably with greater benefits than Social Security presently offers) would still receive Federal reimbursement in the amount of the premium the second-cheapest plan charged, and would be responsible only for the difference.
As the current National Review points out, the actual worst-case scenario for the amount a Social Security receipient would pay for the same benefits Social Security presently offers would be- zero.
But these lies were repeated ad nauseum at the Democratic convention in Charlotte, and the polls released in the convention's aftermath seem to indicate that they made substantial inroads. And the Obama campaign continues to repeat the lies about Romney's "tax break for the rich," his wholly imaginary tax increase for the middle class, and that equally fictitious additional expense seniors would pay for social security. Multiple ads making these absolutely false claims are being shown over and over every day here in the swing states- and frankly, I'm beginning to worry.
I'm beginning to worry because the more frequently people hear an unchallenged lie, the more likely- no, certain- they are to believe it. And while exposing these lies through a heavy buy of Romney TV ads telling the truth would be a slam-dunk, I have yet to see a single Romney-Ryan ad even replying to the Obama whoppers.
Perhaps the Romney campaign is so committed to the idea that the key to winning this election is a laser-like focus on the economy that it's unwilling to allow itself to be distracted by the fact that the Republican ticket is being victimized by some of the most egregious falsehoods in recent political history. But I hope and pray that the Romney people- or the RNC, or some pro-Romney SuperPac, or somebody- gets the truth out soon, and hits the Democratic lies heavy and often with ads giving voters the actual facts.
Election day is drawing closer- and before too long, it may be too late.
HT: National Review
ADDENDUM: At last! Tuesday night I saw an ad from a pro-Romney SuperPac exposing the Obama campaign's lies about Romney's tax plan. It's not much, and it's pretty late in the game- the lies have gone unchallenged for quite a while- but it's a start.
Right now, the swing states need to be carpet bombed with ads on the subject. After all, the Obama campaign has been doing precisely that for a month or two.