Squadrons of highly-regarded economists will tell you that the US deficit doesn't have nearly the importance given to it by the Republicans -- who use it as a kind of fancy red herring for their own political reasons. But questions about what so-and-so will do about the deficit when elected are still red meat to those on the far right who are most definitely not highly-regarded economists and who equate deficits with de debbil.
So Romney's economic plan -- and what Romney plans to "do about the deficit" -- are important in campaign season yada-yada.
Given that, John Cassidy gets to the point: Romney's arithmetic, from the get-go, has been wrong.
Like George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and other Republicans before him, he has proposed a set of economic policies that don’t add up. He doesn’t necessarily want to raise taxes on ordinary American households, but if you take seriously all of things he has committed to doing, that is where the logic leads.
Which raises another question that I posed a few days ago: Is Romney serious? I don’t think he is, and neither does Howard Gleckman, the editor of the Tax Policy Center’s “TaxVox” blog. In a smart comment on this whole brouhaha, Gleckman writes:
"Of course, Romney doesn’t have to raise taxes on the middle-class. He could fix this problem with less ambitious rate cuts on ordinary income, or by raising taxes on capital income. He could pay for his initiative outside of the individual income tax system by increasing corporate taxes—though he says he’d cut them. He could cut spending even more deeply than he’s already promised, though that would hurt low- and middle-income households too. Or he could just add to the deficit.
"Thus, the right question to ask Romney is not whether he wants to raise taxes on the middle-class. The right question to ask is which of his campaign promises he will abandon."
My guess [says Cassidy] is that it he would end up reneging on his commitment to deficit reduction. Having repeatedly promised to cut income taxes by “X”, a newly-elected President Romney could hardly turn around and say he was doing less. Big spending cuts rarely materialize, whichever party is in power. And Mitt surely isn’t about to offend his pals on Wall Street by raising the tax on capital gains. As ever in Washington, the easiest thing to do would be to borrow more money and let the deficit rip. ...John Cassidy, New Yorker
As we know, Republicans are the biggest spenders when they run the government. The numbers are there. But they are also flagrant deficit creators (as distinct, very distinct, from "job creators). Here it is, from Dick Cheney to you: "Reagan proved deficits don’t matter,” he said. “We won the midterms. This is our due.”
Romney will just phrase it slightly differently.