It sounds good, this pledge from Republican Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor, to cut individual income tax rates by 20 percent for everyone. And it sounds particularly good to those who are, like Romney, tremendously wealthy and would benefit the most.
But in the second debate with President Obama Tuesday night on Long Island, Republican nominee Romney failed, again, to provide specifics as to how once those taxes are cut and revenues are reduced, along with his plan to repeal estate taxes and lower corporate taxes the government would make up the difference.
Those who have heard the former governors tax-cut rhetoric before were left asking the same questions that have always been out there: huge sums, running into the trillions of dollars, are involved here. There is a point where closing a few loopholes (some of them helping the middle class, by the way) just isnt going to balance the books.
Yet Romney sticks with his generalizations. And he continues to speak as if the economy remains stuck in the same reverse gear it was in when Obama took office.
The president, who performed poorly in the first debate, offered solid evidence on jobs growth, recently bolstered by positive and non-partisan economic measurements, and noted that the U.S. auto industry was saved by government intervention, which Romney opposed.
All in all, Romney did himself no favors in this debate. His economic plan is murky and despite his rhetoric, remains geared to trickle-down economics: give the rich more money and theyll create jobs. But while Romney was indeed a great businessman in terms of boosting the bottom line of the companies with which he was involved, theres a difference to middle class workers in creating jobs and increasing profits.
The governor also stumbled when he accused the president of failing to adequately respond to the embassy attack in Libya in which four Americans, including the ambassador, were killed. Romney erred, dramatically so, when he said Obama didnt promptly recognize the attack as terror. Obama had in fact used the word in response to the attack.
The president took responsibility for finding answers as to why the embassy was vulnerable. That was the major foreign policy issue of the night, but Obama scored again when he noted that Romneys get tough rhetoric regarding U.S. dealings with China was ironic, given that Romney had made investments in companies that outsourced jobs to China.
Romney is a strong debater. And his raising of issues as to why the economic recovery has been slow, why people dont feel more secure, why the president has not come up with a comprehensive policy to deal with illegal immigration was appropriate. To his credit, however, Obama did not hide behind (though he did mention) a contentious relationship with Republicans in the U.S. House who are uninterested of compromise of any kind and have flatly stated they want his policies to fail.
Obama, as the debate was ending, reminded those watching of Romneys now-infamous 47 percent comment to donors behind closed doors, when the governor reckoned that 47 percent of people were not pulling their weight and paying taxes, were dependant on government and liked it that way. The president noted that the percentage would include those on Social Security or some fighting overseas in the military.
The former governor has no good response, because there isnt one.