Aw, Nuts. I Was This Close to Joining Rob and Ann

Under deadline pressure yesterday, I had time to do nothing more than look at the headlines, but Mitt Romney’s twenty percent across-the-board cut in personal income tax rates sounded darned good–even (the highest compliment I know how to pay) Reaganesque. 

At last, I thought, Romney has come up with a truly big idea, a policy proposal that combines detail with a truly sweeping sense of vision, a real affirmation of his intention to restrain the federal government, promote dramatic economic growth, and let us all keep more of what we earn.

Except, I see on Googling around this morning, that he hasn’t.

As so often these days, our own Ben Domenech provides the best round-up in The Transom:

The WSJ points out that the new 28% top rate is actually higher than the 25% Romney had promised earlier in the campaign. Glenn Hubbard: “[T]he plan would cut all six current tax brackets – 10 percent, 15 percent, 25 percent, 28 percent, 33 percent, 35 percent, depending on a taxpayer’s income – by the same proportion of 20 percent. That would produce this new set of tax brackets: 8 percent, 12 percent, 20 percent, 22.4 percent, 26.4 percent, and 28 percent. ‘It’s a marginal rate cut for every American,’ Mr. Hubbard said.” But for my part, I’m having trouble sorting out from the website’s post a number of key issues. Here’s what they’ve released so far:

We’ll see what he says on Friday, but Romney’s initial comments in the rollout – video here – are very troublesome: “And 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 code, I’m going to limit the deductions and exemptions particularly for high income folks. And by the way, I want to make sure that you understand, for middle income families, the deductibility of home mortgage interest and charitable contributions, those things will continue, but for high income folks, we are going to cut back on that so we make sure the top 1% keeps paying, paying the current share they’re paying or more.”

Romney’s proposal isn’t all that bad, as best I can tell, but it appears to reflect one more tactical repositioning, not a strategic vision.

As much as I’d have liked to join my beloved Ann Coulter–and as acutely as I remain aware of Santorum’s and Gingrich’s flaws–I find that I’m still unable to pick up the Romney pom-poms.

UPDATE: For what it’s worth–and, yes, I know that the world is scarcely hanging on news of my personal deliberations–but after doing more reading and mulling while I had a couple of cups of coffee just now, I find myself concluding that Romney deserves more credit than I was at first disposed to give him. As the Wall Street Journal put it in its lead editorial, “Romney’s Tax Reboot,”

Conservative voters who have wondered if he [Romney] is one of them can now see a tangible proposal that will be a governing priority, no merely a pledge to fight for reform some day. It gives him something to fight for beyond his business biography….

Now we’re getting somewhere.

We’ll see how Santorum and Newt respond–whereas for weeks now it has been they who have been threatening Romney from the right, now he has flanked them on their own right, and a race in which all three scramble to demonstrate that they’re conservative on taxes could prove a thing of real beauty–but Romney does indeed appear to be taking us somewhere. 

Mitt deserves credit for that. A lot of credit.