Is the conservative press misreporting the candidates tax plans?

Twenty-four hours later, the conservative reaction to a devastating report about Mitt Romney’s tax plan is proving almost as interesting as the report itself.

The report, published by the Brookings-Urban Tax Policy Center, demonstrated that Romney’s plan, if implemented, would reduce taxes for the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans but increase taxes for everybody else. It’s one part of a larger agenda that would likely require, thanks to a proposed cap on federal spending, deep cuts to key government programs touching everything from health care to education to law enforcement.

As I said yesterday, if you’re like most Americans, this is a plan to undermine your government services and stick you with a higher tax bill, all so Romney and his pals in the penthouse suite can keep more of their money.

Jonathan Cohn — Romney on Taxes: Deny, Distract, Dissemble

Jonathan Cohn offers a close look at the candidates tax plans

Attention middle-class Americans: One of the men running for president wants to raise your taxes. And it’s not the guy who has the job already.

For some time, Mitt Romney has been promising to reduce income tax rates and then pay for these cuts by closing loopholes. But he’s never specified which loopholes he’d close and now we know why. A new analysis from the Brookings Institution (and first reported byLori Montgomery in the Washington Post) suggests that, in order to lower tax rates without increasing the deficit, Romney would have to close loopholes that benefit middle-class Americans as well as the wealthy. The end result, if I’m reading the report correctly, would be lower taxes for the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans but higher taxes on everybody else. (See the graph below, which Steve Benen of Maddowblog constructed based on the report’s findings.)

Jonathan Cohn — Sure, Mitt Romney Will Lower Your Taxes—If You’re Part of the Richest Five Percent

Why was Mitt Romney so unprepared for the tax question?

Mitt Romney arrives back stateside and just like that, his refusal to release more than a year or two of tax returns is back in the news. Harry Reid is telling people that a big Bain Capital investor told him that Romney told him that he didn’t pay any taxes for 10 years. OK, that sounds like something out of a seventh-grade cafeteria, but then again there’s also an easy way for Romney to knock it down. Which again raises the question: What can possibly be in the returns to make them so dicey to release? Lurking behind that question, though, is a related one that has gotten less attention: Why in the world did someone who has been running for president since late 2006 not years ago rid his personal finances of anything that could cause problems in a campaign—Swiss bank accounts, Cayman Island shelters, questionable IRAs, etc? After all, Romney is nothing if not a cautious, details-oriented fellow—this is someone who held a videotaped family summit before deciding whether to run for president. Why would he not have fixed his finances as carefully as his coiffure before venturing out onto the stage?

Alec MacGillis — “The Larger Question About Romney’s Taxes: Why?

Does cutting taxes actually decrease spending?

"The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein has a fascinating post on the relationship between taxation and spending. It’s an article of faith among some conservatives that if you “starve the beast” that is federal spending by cutting taxes then spending will eventually have to come down. It’s been pointed out more than once that this hasn’t worked very well in the past. Cutting taxes without also cutting spending mainly has the long-term effect of increasing the deficit. What Klein contributes to this discussion is the tantalizing suggestion that cutting taxes also increases spending.”

- Timothy Noah, “Cutting Taxes Increases Spending!

If there’s a pro-mommy candidate, it’s not Mitt Romney. 

"Broadly speaking, the candidate who helps parents the most is the one who will do more to promote economic growth, to look out for public health, and to keep the country safe. In other words, the candidate who does the most to help parents is the one who does the most to help all Americans—and that’s obviously a big, and complicated, subject. But raising kids also involves some very specific tasks and, for many American parents, carrying them out is a struggle.

Among parents, really, the only clear beneficiaries of Romney’s fiscal plans would seem to be the wealthiest ones. They depend least on the government programs Romney would cut and they’d benefit the most from the tax cuts he wants to pass. Of course, those parents are also the ones who struggle the least right now. They may be familiar with the difficult work of raising kids, but they’re frequently not familiar with the financial struggles that lower- and middle-income parents face—which, come to think of it, is precisely what Hilary Rosen was trying to say.”

- Jonathan Cohn, “Sure, Let’s Talk About Moms

Photo courtesy of Politico

A few weeks ago, Warren Buffet caught some flack from conservatives for an OpEd in the New York Times in which he argued that the rich are undertaxed.  

The Wall Street Journal editorial page:

"If he’s worried about being undertaxed, we’d suggest he simply write a big check to Uncle Sam and go back to his day job of picking investments".

Jonathan Chait’s blog suggests that such criticism is misguided- wealthy people who favor higher taxes on the rich don’t just believe they should pay more taxes. They believe the government needs more revenue.

So are the recent rumors true? Will one of the wealthiest figures in modern America step down as the Berkshire CEO to focus full time on philanthropy?

Courtesy of

Conservatives hilariously exclude Reagan from the pattern of presidents who accepted a government role in the economy. Conservative mythology insists that Reagan must always be correct, so he is lauded for rejecting the twentieth century model of government, even though Reagan very much accepted the broad contours of the post New Deal state. Indeed, Reagan liked to boast that he voted for Franklin Roosevelt, and that the Democratic Party only went wrong sometime after FDR passed from the scene. Reagan trimmed government but he never even attempted to fundamentally challenge the basic role of government in regulating market failure or providing medical care to the poor and elderly.