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Get ready for tax-debate rumble

By Kay Bell · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Posted: 12 pm ET

Let's get ready to rumble!

That iconic boxing opening is essentially what President Barack Obama's campaign staff is promising we'll see in Tuesday night's second presidential debate.

Roundly and deservedly criticized for an, uh, lackluster (yeah, we'll use that printable descriptor) performance in the first face-to-face with Republican nominee Mitt Romney, Obama's corner men advisers promise that the president will be more aggressive this time in pointing out what Democrats say are problems in Romney's positions.

When it comes to Romney's tax plan, Obama already has received some unexpected debate preparation help.

Remember at the Democratic National Convention when President Bill Clinton derided GOP math when it came to taxes? Apparently Fox News anchor Chris Wallace paid attention.

On Sunday, Wallace aggressively challenged top Romney adviser Ed Gillespie to defend the six studies the GOP campaign has been citing as supporting its tax plan.

These analyses were first mentioned by Republican vice president candidate Paul Ryan as he deflected questions, again from Fox's Wallace, about his ticket's tax proposals. Ryan said he didn't have time to go into the math. Plus, he threw out the argument most terrifying to television folk: People would be bored and, God forbid, start changing the channel!

So he demurred when it came to specifics, but pointed to six studies that support the Romney tax plan.

But as Wallace and others have noted, those six evaluations have their own problems.

Wallace described some of the pro-Romney tax plan studies as "questionable," noting that one is "a blog from a guy who was a top adviser to George W. Bush. … So these are hardly nonpartisan studies."

Just who is in Romney's tax corner? Here are the six "studies."

  1. A paper from Harvey Rosen, a professor at Princeton University, assumed Romney's lower tax rates would kick-start enough growth to pay for the revenue hole those lower tax rates would create.
  2. An op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal from Marty Feldstein, a former adviser to Ronald Reagan and current Harvard professor. Feldstein, however, dropped the middle-class cap from the $200,000 level in Romney's plan to $100,000.
  3. A blog post by Feldstein where he essentially repeated his newspaper op-ed opinion.
  4. A post by Matthew Jensen at the American Enterprise Institute's blog. Jensen, a research associate at the conservative advocacy group, argued the Romney plan might cut tax preferences for municipal bonds and life insurance buildups.
  5. A blog post by Curtis Dubay, senior tax policy analyst for the conservative Heritage Foundation, citing his Heritage paper "Tax Policy Center’s Skewed Analysis of Governor Romney's Tax Plan."
  6. A tax plan analysis paid for and posted at the Romney campaign website by the GOP candidate's advisers.

As Wallace and others have noted, only a couple of the documents cited by Romney as bolstering his tax plan's workability are actual academic analyses, with one of those an in-house work. The others are blog posts and op-ed pieces written by the usual conservative suspects.

Keep your match debate score card handy to see if Obama takes advantage of this tax groundwork.

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1 Comment
Deb DeVries
October 19, 2012 at 9:14 am

Since Kay Bell is obviously a liberal Democrat in love with Barack Obama, it's very apparent that she cannot be factual and neutral with her "advice" or "reporting", given her political slant. So, for that reason, I will be removing my name from bankrate's mailing list and not recommending any articles found on this site. So disappointed!!