$5 trillion question By Pepe
The President of the United States
(POTUS), Barack Obama, has had to run a country -
and try to keep up with the world - for these past
few weeks, whereas Republican presidential
candidate Mitt Romney only had to run his 47%
mouth - as he was prepped, re-prepped, and
mega-prepped for Wednesday's Denver debate, or
Colorado shoot-out, that
would make or break him in this race.
Himalayas, Hindu Kushes, Karakorams and
Pamirs of spin are being crossed and re-crossed as
winning debate attributions of the "Romney reboot"
kind keep flying about. None of this matters; what
matters is what moves independent and undecided US
voters in, especially, Ohio and Florida. Theater
critics for their part may be inclined to muse how
Mitt looked like a bat out of hell at an Actor's
Studio workshop trying to impersonate a politician
with fire on his belly.
And then there's
the small matter of a tax plan.
eagerness to spew out all matter of memorized
talking points in virtually any intervention, as
if he had a date with destiny (he actually had),
47% Mitt seems to have forgotten that for months
he's been running a campaign in which one of the
central planks is to lower the taxes of everyone
in the US by 20%. Every worthy independent
analysis in the US has concluded that this will
mean a revenue deficit of $5 trillion over 10
Here's what Mitt had to say about
it when confronted by POTUS:
I don't have a $5 trillion tax cut.
I don't have a tax cut of the scale you're
talking about. I think we ought to provide tax
relief to people in the middle class. But I
won't reduce the share of tax paid by
high-income people. … I'm not looking to cut
massive taxes and to reduce revenues going to
the government. My number one principal is,
there will be no tax cut that adds to the
deficit. I want to underline that no tax cut
will add to the deficit.
If taken at
his word - and that's a stretch unheard of in the
annals of yoga - 47% Mitt has in fact said that he
would create millions of jobs without increasing
the deficit and without increasing taxes on the
battered US middle class; his magic recipe would
be to close all loopholes and all deductions for
high-income US taxpayers.
Now ask the
non-partisan Tax Policy Center; even if Mitt
actually did that, which he won't because he is
the 1% - make it even 3% - candidate, the end
result is absolutely unattainable.  The only
way for Mitt not to increase the deficit would be
to apply what he says he won't; more taxes on the
As he still refuses to
provide any details - or "specifics" - about his
tax plan, Mitt in the Colorado shoot out did what
he does best; he flip-flopped on his own tax plan.
He said, "If the tax plan he [POTUS] described
were a tax plan I was asked to support, I would
say absolutely not."
So it was up to CNN
to do some fact checking about all this. Mitt said
cuts in loopholes and deductions would cover his
proposed $5 trillion in tax cuts. So, if you take
Romney's word for it - according to CNN - then he
is right. Fact checked.
Let's assume Sun
Tzu was watching this debate somewhere in a
Dante-esque circle of gray eminences, sipping rice
wine and trading zingers with his peer
Machiavelli. He might say POTUS played it right.
POTUS did manifest the enthusiasm of someone
facing the guillotine. Why didn't he go after
Mitt? Why didn't he even mention the 47%? Why
didn't he contradict those Mitt figures that don't
Because this may be part of a
long, give-him-enough-rope strategy. Concede a
battle to win the war. One just has to wait and
see when those independent, undecided middle-class
voters in swing states - especially Ohio and
Florida - do fact check Mitt's $5 trillion game
and realize he's going to do what he swears he
won't. By then he will have more than enough rope
to conduct his own extinction.