By Ben Cohen: So far, Mitt Romney's Presidential campaign is based on not being Barack Obama. The Republican nominee is spending vast sums of money on attacking the President for his liberalness, his perceived weakness and lack of stewardship over the economy. Romney is going negative, and it seems to be having an effect. It is of course too early to tell, but a recent Gallup Poll had Romney pulling ahead with key middle income voters - a worrying sign that indicates the election will be close.
But as Hillary Clinton and John McCain learned in their epic battles with Obama, the President is alarmingly resilient to negative attacks, and beat both of them with a positive message of hope for the future. Mitt Romney might do well out of slamming the President in the short term, but his team must know they'll need more than that take the Presidency.
There have been calls from other Republicans for Romney to spell out a new vision for America. Gov. Scott Walker, who just won the recall election in Wisconsin, urged Romney to present a 'big and bold' plan for the country. On Face the Nation, he said:
"I don't think we win if it's just about a referendum on Barack Obama.....I think people like [Wisconsin Rep.] Paul Ryan and others hope that he goes big and bold..... “Romney’s got a shot if the ‘R’ next to his name doesn’t just stand for Republican, it stands for reformer, if he shows my state and he shows Americans that he’s got a plan to take on those reforms.”
Romney has been extremely vague, at least in public, about the direction in which he'd like to take the country - a sign that he doesn't actually have a serious plan yet. And taking a look at his official website MittRomney.com would confirm that. The key topics he has been nailing Obama on; the deficit, taxation, and the weak economy are featured on the site, and unsurprisingly, Romney's plan is extremely underwhelming.
Take the title banner for Romney's site, for example:
And here's the detail on Mitt Romney's plan for America on the two biggest issues:
Make permanent, across-the-board 20 percent cut in marginal rates
Maintain current tax rates on interest, dividends, and capital gains
Eliminate taxes for taxpayers with AGI below $200,000 on interest, dividends, and capital gains
Eliminate the Death Tax
Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
Cut the corporate rate to 25 percent
Strengthen and make permanent the R&D tax credit
Switch to a territorial tax system
Repeal the corporate Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
Basically, Mitt Romney's entire vision for the country is to cut taxes for the rich. And digging a little deeper, he is actually planning on raising taxes for the poor. According to an analysis from a non-partisan Washington think tank (The Tax Policy Center) Mitt Romney's tax plan strongly favors the wealthiest Americans. It offers earners in the top 20 percent an average tax cut of more than $16,000 while it raises taxes on the bottom 20 percent of earners. The analysis shows that under Romney, the bottom 20 percent would see their average federal tax rate increase $149. The top 20 percent, meanwhile, would see an average tax cut of $16,134, a 5.4 percent reduction in their tax rate. To top it off, highest one percent of earners would see their average tax rate fall by nearly $150,000 per year, and the top 0.1 percent would see a reduction of more than $725,000.
More damaging to Romney's vision for America is the alarming amount of money his tax plan would add to the deficit. According to the Tax Policy Center, Romney would add $900 billion to the deficit in 2015 at the time when the changes would go into effect. The TPC also found that his proposed tax cuts would add $3 trillion to the deficit over ten years . Not exactly fiscally conservative.
This is typical of Republican economics - ie. it sounds good in theory, but the numbers don't add up. The modern GOP adheres to the maxim that cutting taxes increases government revenue, not because it does (it doesn't) but because it plays well with voters. Everyone wants to hear that if they pay less taxes, they'll get better services. Logically, it can't happen, but politicians like Romney don't care about that - they will say anything to get elected.
And although Romney hasn't started promoting it yet, this is his 'Bold Plan' for America. How do we know this? Because Republicans haven't offered a new vision of society since Ronald Reagan. Everything revolves around the efficiency and inherent genius of the free market, making policy more of an ideology, and plans more of a fantasy. Romney's campaign website confirms that he is offering more of the same illogical economics with little creative thinking or innovative policy ideas.
Romney's team will do their best to package the tired argument that tax cuts and less government will solve all of America's problems, but at the end of the day, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig.