Romney Rates a Mulligan on Latest Tax Gaffe, As Pressure Builds on the Debate
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For some unknown reason, Mitt Romney dialed back his tax-cut plan yesterday, the same day new reports showed incomes are dropping.
Last month, median household income fell by about $500, and since Barack Obama became president, income is down over $4,500. But under Mitt Romney’s 20% tax-cut plan, if he truly believes it and follows through with it, a married couple making $70,000 a year would save over $2,000. And take-home pay for a middle-class married couple earning about $140,000 — with their tax rate dropping to 20% from 25% — would increase by over $7,100. Mr. Obama has no such middle-class tax cuts.
So why would Governor Romney tell an Ohio crowd on Wednesday that they shouldn’t “be expecting a huge cut in taxes, ’cause I’m also going to lower deductions and exemptions.”
What is that all about? What kind of message is he sending? Is it pro-growth take-home pay? Or is he pulling back and hedging his bet?
I wrote in my last column about the potential benefits of the Romney plan. I suggested that Romney should give specific examples of higher take-home pay from his tax cuts. And then I suggested that he draw a red line for middle-income taxpayers, and say “you will not lose you’re your deductions.” In other words, send a true growth message. And make it clear, not muddied.
This afternoon, one of the most senior people in the Romney-Ryan camp called me to say that Mitt misspoke, and that I should give him a mulligan. This person told me there’s no pull-back on the pro-growth tax-cut message, no new overemphasis on debt, and no departure from the Reagan-Kemp tradition.
Okay, even though I’m a tennis player, I’m willing to give Mr. Romney a mulligan. But I’ll say this: The growth message has to be crystal clear for the debate next Wednesday night. Mitt is slipping in the polls. People are confused about his message. He must clarify it.
Lower marginal tax rates. Higher middle-class take-home pay to offset lost income under Mr. Obama. More family financial resources. More growth and more jobs.
This doesn’t have to be so hard.