Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What Romney should be saying about his tax plan

I don't understand why Romney and Ryan, when pressed about their tax reform plan, don't make a bigger point of casting Romney's plan as following in the tradition of the 1986 tax reforms passed on a bipartisan basis. That plan followed the same principles as Romney's plan to lower marginal rates while lowering deductions for the wealthy. In fact, Paul Ryan, much as I admire him, missed an opportunity when Biden was laughing at his description of Romney's plan saying that "It has never been done before" and Ryan made the quite true point that John F. Kennedy had advocated the same sort of plan which was passed after his assassination. Biden laughed and said "Oh, now you're Jack Kennedy."

Ryan should have responded with the observation that it had certainly been done before in 1986 and Joe Biden had even voted for it. As Patrick Brennan pointed out on NRO.
Amazing, in fact, might be a better description of Biden’s duplicitousness on the question of tax reform. While obviously no one has enacted a plan exactly like Romney’s before, the general principles have been applied twice, with John F. Kennedy’s proposed tax reforms that were later implemented slightly differently, and Ronald Reagan’s 1986 tax reform, both of which cut marginal rates significantly and eliminated deductions for the wealthy, while gathering essentially the same revenue (technically the ’86 bill itself cost $8.9 billion in revenue over the first two years, but overall tax revenues increased substantially in its wake). But twice Biden claims that such tax reform “has never been done before.” But he should know better — he actually voted to do it, 28 years ago. On September 27, 1986, Biden voted (along with 32 other Democrats) to enact H.R. 3838, Ronald Reagan’s tax reform, which lowered rates, eliminated deductions, and barely affected the deficit.

In fact, that bill actually lowered the top marginal tax rate to 28 percent, the top rate Romney and Ryan have proposed. Biden’s assertion that something like what Romney and Ryan are proposing “has never been done before” is, well, laughable.
Imagine how devastating it would have been if Paul Ryan had just turned to Biden and said,
"But Mr. Vice President, it has been done before and you even voted for it. I guess you were for it before you were against it."

Romney still has that opportunity when his tax plan comes up in tonight's debate, he should do more to make the connection between his proposal and Reagan's tax reform. And when pressed about the sorts of deductions he would eliminate, he should contrast his willingness to negotiate with Democrats with how Obama ignored Republican input for both his stimulus and health care reform bills.

From talking with some of my more liberal friends, they all bring up how Romney's tax plan is impossible and they seem quite surprised to hear that it was done before in 1986 with bipartisan backing. Obama has been trying to pretend that Romney's plan is unprecedented. It's not and Romney should be doing more to draw those connections.