Thursday, August 9, 2012

If Robert Samuelson...

...of the Washington Post doesn't like Mitt Romney's tax plan, you know it must be bad. Wow!

From Samuelson's column today "Romney's Tax Plan Makes No Sense" (my emphasis): 

The political damage from this lopsided tax plan transcends its details. The central appeal of the Romney candidacy is that he would bring a competence to economic policy that would inspire the confidence needed to reinvigorate the recovery. The idea is to present a compelling contrast to Obama, whose low understanding of and meager sympathy for business seem plain and have arguably hobbled economic expansion. 

Romney’s tax plan calls into question his claimed superiority. The plan seems crafted mostly to satisfy Republican constituencies, which fervently support ending the estate tax and keeping capital gains rates low. The campaign has pointed to a study claiming that Romney’s plan would increase the economy’s output by 5 percent, $750 billion at today’s prices, after five years. The projection seems a stretch — just numbers generated by a computer model — but it’s also irrelevant because the plan would be dead on arrival in Congress. 

Under any circumstances, broadening the tax base by curbing popular breaks would be difficult. Huge constituencies benefit from the deductions for mortgage interest and charitable gifts. Other popular breaks include the income exclusion for employer-paid health insurance and tax credits for college tuition. To cut them so that taxes rise for the poorest 95 percent and fall for the richest 5 percent suggests a form of political suicide unappealing to elected officials.

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