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. http://vlt.tc/5j6 Glenn Hubbard: http://vlt.tc/5jb “[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: http://vlt.tc/5j4

We’ll see what he says on Friday, but Romney’s initial comments in the rollout – video here – are very troublesome: http://vlt.tc/5ib “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.

Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s growing community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Members have made 77 comments.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  1. Profile photo of ParisParamus Member

    Nothing like offering benefit of the doubt. 

    What about high income earners whose rates will go up with the closing of loopholes? By definition, if you close a loophole, tax paid will increase.

    • #1
    • February 23, 2012 at 9:28 am
  2. Profile photo of Paul A. Rahe Contributor

    Oh Goody! Mitt Romney is going to make it harder for high-income Americans to make donations to charitable organizations. This is precisely what Barack Obama was arguing for back in 2009. The latter understood what he was about. His aim was and is to strangle civil society, which depends of this species of support. Does Mitt Romney have any idea of the consequences of what he is proposing?

    The man often seems to be out of his depth.

    • #2
    • February 23, 2012 at 9:29 am
  3. Profile photo of F. L. Booth Member

    Strategic vision? Like what really makes sense, the elimination of all corporate taxes, and therefore eliminating “legislative favor?” That will not sell to the middle. Sorry, don’t like the guy but with Newt claiming that Iranis speak Arabic and Santorum chasing Satan away, which only RWR could do, there is no choice.

    • #3
    • February 23, 2012 at 9:36 am
  4. Profile photo of Todd Member

    “Romney’s proposal isn’t all that bad.”

    The problems with the tax code are its progressivity and complexity. His plan makes both of those problem worse.

    • #4
    • February 23, 2012 at 9:36 am
  5. Profile photo of Albert Arthur Coolidge

    I’ve been critical of you in the past, Peter, for what I thought were generally unhelpful, negative comments about the candidates, so I thought I should let you know that I share your unease with Romney’s proposal. Why is he being into this class distinction language of Occupy? It’s too bad. But for me, last night solidified that no one else is capable of taking on Obama.

    • #5
    • February 23, 2012 at 9:36 am
  6. Profile photo of Mark Wilson Member
    Paul A. Rahe: Oh Goody! Mitt Romney is going to make it harder for high-income Americans to make donations to charitable organizations.

    He is giving them a 20% cut in their tax rates, which in most cases will more than offset the loss of the charitable deduction. That may remove some of the incentive, but I don’t see how it will be any “harder”.

    • #6
    • February 23, 2012 at 9:40 am
  7. Profile photo of Robert Promm Inactive

    God’s advocate rather than the devil’s advocate might say: Is it necessary that we receive a tax deduction to do good? That is, should one’s charitable giving be any less if there were no tax deduction?

    I personally am for removal of all deductions in exchange for a lower flat rate. Or, a flat tax based totally on consumption rather than income. Under this condition, charitable giving would clearly not be consumption. Neither would any gifting be consumption for that matter. The receiver of the gift would bear the tax upon consumption of the gift.

    • #7
    • February 23, 2012 at 9:42 am
  8. Profile photo of ParisParamus Member

    When did Romney propose cutting individual rates for all to 25%? He proposed cutting the corporate rate to that, no?

    • #8
    • February 23, 2012 at 9:47 am
  9. Profile photo of Percival Thatcher

    I’m not picking up the pom-poms at all. For one thing, I don’t have the legs to be on the cheerleading squad — that’s why I played sousaphone in the band.

    For another thing, every time I start to think “Mitt’s not really that bad,” he manages to get a wee bit worse.

    Does Mitt have it in him to be a strategic thinker? Probably, but it’s tough to see where he thinks he’s going. Winning a class war when you are as rich as Mitt is doesn’t seem to be the kind of fight one should be taking on.

    • #9
    • February 23, 2012 at 9:51 am
  10. Profile photo of Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Mark Wilson
    Paul A. Rahe: Oh Goody! Mitt Romney is going to make it harder for high-income Americans to make donations to charitable organizations.

    He is giving them a 20% cut in their tax rates, which in most cases will more than offset the loss of the charitable deduction. That may remove some of the incentive, but I don’t see how it will be any “harder”. · 8 minutes ago

    Incentives matter bigtime.

    • #10
    • February 23, 2012 at 9:51 am
  11. Profile photo of MJMack Inactive

    In other news, the sky is blue.

    • #11
    • February 23, 2012 at 9:52 am
  12. Profile photo of Robert Promm Inactive
    Paul A. Rahe
    Mark Wilson

    He is giving them a 20% cut in their tax rates, which in most cases will more than offset the loss of the charitable deduction. That may remove some of the incentive, but I don’t see how it will be any “harder”. · 8 minutes ago

    Incentives matter bigtime. · 3 minutes ago

    Who’s incentives matter the most? I recall someone said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.”

    • #12
    • February 23, 2012 at 9:56 am
  13. Profile photo of Leigh Member

    I think the moral of this story is that Congress matters.

    • #13
    • February 23, 2012 at 9:57 am
  14. Profile photo of Leporello Inactive

    Republicans should be able to state that taking a larger share from those who have managed to make more in the past year is simply un-American, That is, it runs contrary to our unalienable right to property, which means the right to keep the fruits of our labor.

    • #14
    • February 23, 2012 at 10:09 am
  15. Profile photo of Leporello Inactive

    Pres. Lincoln’s response to Mr. Romney:

    Again, as has already been said, there is not of necessity any such thing as the free hired laborer being fixed to that condition for life. Many independent men everywhere in these States a few years back in their lives were hired laborers. The prudent, penniless beginner in the world labors for wages awhile, saves a surplus with which to buy tools or land for himself, then labors on his own account another while, and at length hires another new beginner to help him. This is the just and generous and prosperous system which opens the way to all, gives hope to all, and consequent energy and progress and improvement of condition to all. No men living are more worthy to be trusted than those who toil up from poverty; none less inclined to take or touch aught which they have not honestly earned. Let them beware of surrendering a political power which they already possess, and which if surrendered will surely be used to close the door of advancement against such as they and to fix new disabilities and burdens upon them till all of liberty shall be lost.

    • #15
    • February 23, 2012 at 10:11 am
  16. Profile photo of F. L. Booth Member
    Paul A. Rahe

    Incentives matter bigtime. · 21 minutes ago

    Sure they do, but to .05% of the electorate. Is that a win?

    • #16
    • February 23, 2012 at 10:17 am
  17. Profile photo of katievs Member

    This is why I’m behind Santorum. I trust him. I don’t trust Romney.

    Why was Santorum tripped up last night? Because he thinks he owes the public an honest explanation for his votes. A “no more than one minute” debate format wasn’t the place for it.

    Politicians like Obama use words to disguise the truth. I can’t shake the impression that Romney shares the trait.

    • #17
    • February 23, 2012 at 10:18 am
  18. Profile photo of Joseph Eagar Member
    Paul A. Rahe: Oh Goody! Mitt Romney is going to make it harder for high-income Americans to make donations to charitable organizations. This is precisely what Barack Obama was arguing for back in 2009. The latter understood what he was about. His aim was and is to strangle civil society, which depends of this species of support. Does Mitt Romney have any idea of the consequences of what he is proposing?

    The man often seems to be out of his depth. · 43 minutes ag

    Except that the higher marginal rates necessary to pay for that also damage society, by lowering the long-run growth potential of our economy at a time when we face an aging population and bankrupt entitlements.

    • #18
    • February 23, 2012 at 10:18 am
  19. Profile photo of Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Leigh: I think the moral of this story is that Congress matters. · 24 minutes ago

    On questions like this, it will matter a lot.

    • #19
    • February 23, 2012 at 10:21 am
  20. Profile photo of Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    F. L. Booth
    Paul A. Rahe

    Incentives matter bigtime. · 21 minutes ago

    Sure they do, but to .05% of the electorate. Is that a win? · 5 minutes ago

    It is a big win for charitable organizations — which generally spend their money in a more intelligent fashion than the government.

    • #20
    • February 23, 2012 at 10:24 am
  21. Profile photo of Joseph Eagar Member
    Paul A. Rahe
    F. L. Booth
    Paul A. Rahe

    Incentives matter bigtime. · 21 minutes ago

    Sure they do, but to .05% of the electorate. Is that a win? · 5 minutes ago

    It is a big win for charitable organizations — which generally spend their money in a more intelligent fashion than the government. · 4 minutes ago

    I’ve got to agree with you there.

    • #21
    • February 23, 2012 at 10:28 am
  22. Profile photo of Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Joseph Eagar
    Paul A. Rahe: Oh Goody! Mitt Romney is going to make it harder for high-income Americans to make donations to charitable organizations. This is precisely what Barack Obama was arguing for back in 2009. The latter understood what he was about. His aim was and is to strangle civil society, which depends of this species of support. Does Mitt Romney have any idea of the consequences of what he is proposing?

    The man often seems to be out of his depth. · 43 minutes ag

    Except that the higher marginal rates necessary to pay for that also damage society, by lowering the long-run growth potential of our economy at a time when we face an aging population and bankrupt entitlements. · 5 minutes ago

    Keep in mind that the only group that Mitt Romney intends to deny deductions to is the investing class. That will lower the long-run growth potential of our economy.

    He would have done far better to propose eliminating the mortgage deduction for everyone. It serves only to push up the price of housing.

    As things stand, he presents himself as Obama-lite.

    • #22
    • February 23, 2012 at 10:30 am
  23. Profile photo of Doug Lee Inactive

    It’s certainly not the 9-9-9 plan, but that had no chance of ever becoming law even if Cain had won a landslide victory and all the polls showed that it was because of overwhelming voter support for the plan. The Washington establishment will simply not allow any major structural changes to the tax code.

    On the other hand, conservatives should not fear an elimination of many loopholes, which distort the marketplace. They are way for Congress (instead of the free market) to pick winners and losers. If you are for the flat tax or fair tax, then why not try to make the current system as much like those systems as possible? Outside of above the line deductions for charitable contributions, children and mortgages, what are we really worried about eliminating?

    • #23
    • February 23, 2012 at 10:33 am
  24. Profile photo of St. Salieri / Eric Cook Member
    Paul A. Rahe
    The man often seems to be out of his depth. · 43 minutes ag

    As things stand, he presents himself as Obama-lite. · 2 minutes ago

    These two statements and a comment by Katievs above, plus last night’s debate has crystallized my thinking about the choices we face. I had been looking at Santorum and will vote for him in order to try to push Romney as far right as possible, because I think Romney will be the nominee. He demonstrated that he does have superior political skills, debating skills and an ability to think strategically, albeit about being elected.

    However, he either doesn’t really understand the way things work in Washington, or he pretends (the more likely scenario), and so he is willing to do anything to be elected, whereas Santorum wants to truly explain and reform (not that I like all of Santorum’s platform, or oppose all of Romney’s).

    Defeating BHO is the most important objective, but I am more convinced than ever that defeating him with Romney is a slower and less painful poison for the Republic to swallow. What an awful set of choices.

    • #24
    • February 23, 2012 at 10:40 am
  25. Profile photo of Percival Thatcher
    Paul A. Rahe
     

    He would have done far better to propose eliminating the mortgage deduction for everyone. It serves only to push up the price of housing.

    Given the current state of the housing market, I’d just as soon we eased out the mortgage deduction, rather than eliminating it outright. Otherwise, a lot of homes currently not underwater will sink beneath the waves.

    • #25
    • February 23, 2012 at 10:42 am
  26. Profile photo of Doug Lee Inactive

    Another thing about Romney’s concern that the 1% pays as much or more in taxes: clearly, he is trying to deflect the withering criticism that will be directed toward him by the MSM and the liberals (I know, I’m being redundant there) that will be especially poignant given that he is a Wall Streeter worth a couple hundred million.

    The Dems are constantly saying “let’s soak the rich,” and guess who’s cheering them on? The rich! And the MSM doesn’t just let them get away with it, its the MSM that’s driving the show. We all know that Wall Street gave generously to Obama’s campaign and that his administration reads like a Who’s Who of Wall Street; we also know that despite his “soak the rich” rhetoric, the rich just don’t seem to be doing all that poorly.

    I would like to see a true Reaganite attack on Obama, but it just ain’t gonna happen regardless of who we nominate. Romney’s best bet on this issue is to do what he just did, then refocus the debate on controlling the deficit by cutting spending and spurring an economic recovery.

    • #26
    • February 23, 2012 at 10:44 am
  27. Profile photo of Leporello Inactive
    katievs: This is why I’m behind Santorum. I trust him. I don’t trust Romney.

    Why was Santorum tripped up last night? Because he thinks he owes the public an honest explanation for his votes. A “no more than one minute” debate format wasn’t the place for it.

    Politicians like Obama use words to disguise the truth. I can’t shake the impression that Romney shares the trait. · 24 minutes ago

    Edited 22 minutes ago

    Admittedly, though, there is a difference between presenting one’s case well and disguising the truth. I mean to say that Santorum is sometimes too candid and direct, when he could provide a limited but still truthful explanation that satisfies the audience without opening himself up to criticism.

    That is, he should practice more the art of politics – which is separate from the immorality of politics, though the two are commonly confused.

    • #27
    • February 23, 2012 at 10:45 am
  28. Profile photo of Leporello Inactive
    St. Salieri
    Paul A. Rahe
    The man often seems to be out of his depth. · 43 minutes ag

    As things stand, he presents himself as Obama-lite. · 2 minutes ago

    These two statements and a comment by Katievs above, plus last night’s debate has crystallized my thinking about the choices we face. I had been looking at Santorum and will vote for him in order to try to push Romney as far right as possible, because I think Romney will be the nominee…

    However, he either doesn’t really understand the way things work in Washington, or he pretends (the more likely scenario), and so he is willing to do anything to be elected, whereas Santorum wants to truly explain and reform (not that I like all of Santorum’s platform, or oppose all of Romney’s).

    Defeating BHO is the most important objective, but I am more convinced than ever that defeating him with Romney is a slower and less painful poison for the Republic to swallow. What an awful set of choices. · 4 minutes ago

    A thoughtful strategy.

    • #28
    • February 23, 2012 at 10:47 am
  29. Profile photo of Mark Wilson Member
    Paul A. Rahe
    Mark Wilson

    He is giving them a 20% cut in their tax rates, which in most cases will more than offset the loss of the charitable deduction. That may remove some of the incentive, but I don’t see how it will be any “harder”. · 8 minutes ago

    Incentives matter bigtime. · 43 minutes ago

    Definitely. But let’s distinguish between removing an incentive and making something “harder”. They will have more post-tax money available, so it will not be a hardship to give the same amount of money to charity. I think it’s the difference between a gift card and cash. 

    As for the broader effect of Americans having more post-tax income on the economy and the related effects on charities, I don’t know if it would be a net positive or negative.

    • #29
    • February 23, 2012 at 10:49 am
  30. Profile photo of Duane Oyen Member

    We had this debate the other day on Dave Carter’s thread. I am amused to see how our side is suddenly opposed to reducing marginal tax rates and beginning the process of chopping deductions. 

    Amazing. The WSJ understands the strategic point.

    Prof. Rahe’s position I understand- colleges like special deductions to persuade alumni to donate, though that strikes me as interesting as well, given all the railing normally found here against special interests and corporatism.

    This comment by Joe Eager is cogent on the subject, and I also reiterate what I said there myself.

    1) You do not start out by giving demagogues the ammo to shoot you with class warfare. If Romney proposed a Steve Forbes flat tax today in this situation, he would be a Don Quixote moron spitting into the wind and leaning into Axelrod’s punch. Do the basic now, and gradually slice the rest of the deductions later.

    2) Listen- we are talking about marginal tax rates. Doesn’t anyone here speak conservative economics? The proposal reduces marginal rates, and doesn’t increase taxes

    And we are complaining that they gave us pizza but didn’t add free extra cheese and breadsticks?

    • #30
    • February 23, 2012 at 10:52 am
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3