Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney may have found his "Etch A Sketch" moment at Wednesday's debate.
Mitt Romney makes a point during his debate with President Obama on Wednesday night.
The Associated Press
Like the popular drawing toy, in which the user can completely erase the most complex picture with a quick shake, a Romney campaign aide suggested last spring that in the general election campaign Romney could wipe out the pitch he aimed at right-leaning primary voters and reintroduce himself to undecided independents, who would be open to a more moderate appeal.
On Wednesday, Romney appeared focused and prepared, standing toe-to-toe with the president, looking every bit his equal on the economic issues that dominated the debate.
He was helped by Obama, who looked tired and uncomfortable to be defending his record and was unable to make many attacks on Romney that stuck.
In fact, one of Romney's strongest moments came in defending his tax cut proposal which Obama described as a $5 trillion deficit buster.
"I don't have a $5 trillion tax cut," Romney said. "What I've said is that I won't put in a tax cut that adds to the deficit."
But he has and it would. According to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, Romney's plan to drop tax rates by 20 percent, eliminate the inheritance tax, the alternative minimum tax and other tax reductions would indeed cost the federal budget $480 billion, which rounds out to $5 trillion over 10 years.
Romney said that he would pay for those tax cuts by closing loopholes and eliminating deductions. But the Tax Policy Foundation says there would not be enough of them to fill the gap without involving tax shelters like the home mortgage and health insurance deductions, effectively raising taxes on the middle class.
Some fact checkers buy Romney's explanation and conclude that he will pay for his tax cuts, but since he won't say what loopholes he would close, we remain skeptical. His new pledge seems geared for voters who have just tuned in. He has promised big tax cuts throughout his five-year run for the White House, and five weeks before Election Day is no time for an Etch-A-Sketch shake-up.