Incoherence

in·co·her·ent:

  • (of spoken or written language) Expressed in an incomprehensible or confusing way; unclear
  • (of a person) Unable to speak intelligibly
  • (of an ideology, policy, or system) Internally inconsistent; illogical

n Wednesday, Mitt Romney released a new campaign ad that featured these words:

President Obama and I both care about poor and middle class families.

Piggybacking on an increasingly popular Obama is a good move, but those words were quickly followed with this lie:

The difference is, my policies will make things better for them.

The Romney-Ryan budget ideas will, of course, not make things better for the poor, and the jury is still out and confused on what those policies will do to the middle class. Heck, the Romney-Ryan campaign itself is confused about that:

Romney To Middle Class Ohioans: Don’t Expect Too Much Tax Relief From Me

From that article:

“We have got to reform our tax system,” Romney said at a morning event here. “Small businesses most typically pay taxes at the individual tax rate. And so our individual income taxes are the ones I want to reform. Make them simpler. I want to bring the rates down. By the way, don’t be expecting a huge cut in taxes because I’m also going to lower deductions and exemptions. But by bringing rates down we will be able to let small businesses keep more of their money so they can hire more people.”

If there has been one thing that has been consistent about the Romney-run campaign, it has been its incoherence.

All along, Romney has touted across-the-board tax rate cuts of 20%, which a voter might rightly decide meant an actual tax cut of 20%. Of course, as most economists who have looked at Romney’s tax plan have pointed out, Romney can’t cut tax rates by 20% without raising the deficit, unless he closes popular middle-class loopholes. But as Ezra Klein pointed out:

Since Romney doesn’t want to touch tax breaks for savings and investment like the capital gains cut…there just isn’t enough money in the remaining tax breaks for people making over $250,000 to pay for their tax cuts.

Howard Gleckman, who writes the economic policy blog for the Tax Policy Center, put it this way:

The Tax Policy Center has found that a 20 percent across-the-board rate cut along with repeal of the estate tax and the Alternative Minimum Tax would disproportionately benefit high-income households. As a result, it would be effectively impossible for Romney to cut rates as he has promised without raising taxes on middle-income households, increasing the deficit, or raising taxes on investment income (which he has vowed not to do).

Something has to give, as mathematics tends not to be all that flexible. And Romney, sensing that folks are starting to get the message that his brand of arithmetic is not of this world, has tried to muddle their minds even more by his warning, “don’t be expecting a huge cut in taxes.”

But the incoherence in Romney’s latest statement in Ohio goes even further than that. Let’s look at it again, in terms of its logic regarding small businesses:

1. He wants to reform individual tax rates by bringing “the rates down.”

2. Small businesses “most typically pay taxes at the individual tax rate.”

3. But to those small businesses he says not to expect “a huge cut in taxes because I’m also going to lower deductions and exemptions.”

Got it so far? No big cut in taxes for small businesses. But he then finishes with this:

4. “But by bringing rates down we will be able to let small businesses keep more of their money so they can hire more people.”

How can that be? If there isn’t much to expect in the way of tax cuts, how can, a) small businesses “keep more of their money” and b) “hire more people” because of it?

More doodoo economics, I suppose. But as I said, Romney’s campaign has been consistent when it comes to its breathtaking incoherence.

2 Comments

  1. Romney is using the classic pitchman’s technique of distraction. “Observe the shell on the left where I am lowering your taxes, but don’t look at the one on the right where I’m removing deductions.” His pitch isn’t about logic, it’s about appealing to wishful thinking and that, sadly, is working with way too many citizens. Good post. BTW, your new format is excellent, Duane, and much easier on the eyes. – good move!

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  2. Jim,

    Romney’s tax plan, in fact his whole economic plan, is really nothing more than the warmed-over nonsense that Republicans, at least since Reagan, have used on the electorate. I don’t think they believe a word of it, since it doesn’t make sense even to conservative economists, who have had to twist themselves out of shape to defend it.

    And I’ve been wanting to change the format but just haven’t had the time. Finally got around to it. It is much easier to read and actually fits the widescreen!

    Duane

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