Friday, September 14, 2012


Yes, yes, this is fun:
An interesting quote from Mitt Romney in an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Is $100,000 middle income?
MITT ROMNEY: No, middle income is $200,000 to $250,000 and less.
...Maybe $200,000-$250,000 is middle income in Mitt Romney's world, but it's a tad higher than the middle when measured against most of America.

...In fact, $200,000-$250,000 is in the top 2%-3%....
So let's have a good laugh while we can, because the fact-checkers are going to show up any minute -- or, at least, the minute any Obama ad quotes this, or anyone connected to the Obama campaign -- and tell us we're distorting what Romney said.

Here's the quote in context:
MITT ROMNEY: ... Let me tell you, George, the fundamentals of my tax policy are these. Number one, reduce tax burdens on middle-income people. So no one can say my plan is going to raise taxes on middle-income people, because principle number one is keep the burden down on middle-income taxpayers.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Is $100,000 middle income?

MITT ROMNEY: No, middle income is $200,000 to $250,000 and less. So number one, don’t reduce -- or excuse me, don't raise taxes on middle-income people, lower them. Number two, don't reduce the share of taxes paid by the wealthiest. The top 5% will still pay the same share of taxes they pay today. That's principle one, principle two. Principle three is create incentives for growth, make it easier for businesses to start and to add jobs. And finally, simplify the code, make it easier for people to pay their taxes than the way they have to now.
See, Romney was asked, Who's middle-class?, but the question he answered was Who's going to get a tax cut? And his answer was people making $200,000 or $250,000 and less. He's defining a tax cutoff (one that's like Obama's, except that Obama wants to raise marginal tax rates above that threshold, while Romney doesn't). Romney isn't really saying that $200,000-$250,000 is the middle of the middle-class range -- he's saying it's the top of the middle-class range.

Or at least that's what the Pinocchio-slingers are going to say whenever anyone quotes this in the future. So let's have our fun now.


However, there's a sleazy thing here -- something much worse than misjudging what constitutes a middle-class income.

Notice that Romney says everybody from his threshold on down will get a tax cut. Now, notice that he says the people above the threshold will "pay the same share of taxes they pay today." He's not saying they'll pay the same tax rate -- he's saying they'll pay the same share.

If the people below the threshold pay less in taxes, then total tax collections will drop. Thus, if the rich pay the same share (of a smaller pool of tax revenue), they'll get a tax cut, too, of the same size as the one the non-rich get. But Romney is using weasel words to make you think their taxes won't go down.

That deception is the most objectionable thing about what he says here.


UPDATE: Kevin Drum also catches the deception:
So everyone will pay the same share of taxes they pay today. But we're going to lower taxes on the bottom 95%. So that means we have to lower taxes on the top 5% too. That's the only way to keep their shares the same.

In other words, Romney is going to lower everyone's taxes. Not just tax rates, actual taxes. And yet, his plan is going to be revenue neutral. How? Most likely it has something to do with Romney's tax cuts creating new incentives that will supercharge the economy blah blah blah.


Philo Vaihinger said...

It does have an upside. Far too many Americans think they are prosperous, well-off, or middle class when they are just not terrible uncomfortable working folk.

That lets Repubs get away with screaming at how morally outrageous it is for a family of 4 living on $40K to get food assistance or help buying health insurance.

We all draw the lines too damned low.

Victor said...

We'll also get the skunks who'll say 'Oh, but $200,000 to 250,000 is NOT wealthy if you live in NYC, DC, Boston, Chicage,..." etc.

No, it' not.

But it's a hell of a lot better than trying to live in those cities on a teachers, cops, or firefighters salaries - let alone waiters, waitresses, bartenders, cooks, custodians, etc.

I hope REAL middle class people hear the level at which Mitt thinks their class tops out at.

The top 2-5% ain't the top end of the MIDDLE class, it's the BOTTOM end of the UPPER Class.