In processing the following, we should recall Mitt Romney's rationale for refusing to release more of his tax returns: Romney claims the returns would provide Democrats and the media specifics about his behavior, and that would just lead to troubling questions Romney does not want to answer.
Meet the Press. Romney, obviously following a specific campaign tactic to avoid specifics on the question, repeatedly dodged giving any.
Finally, Gregory asked the GOP nominee: "But Governor, where are the specifics of how you get to this math? Isn't that an issue?"
Romney's answer: "Well, the specifics are these, which is...those principles I described are the heart of my policy, and I've indicated as well that...I'm not going to increase the tax burden on middle-income families. It would absolutely be wrong to do that."
Just so we're clear, "principles" and "hearts" of policies are general and fundamental beliefs and guidelines. But they are not specifics.
Recognizing this, Gregory then asked Romney, pointedly, simply, for a specific: "Can you give me an example of a loophole that you will close?"
Romney responded: "Well, I can tell you that people at the high end, high-income tax payers, are going to have fewer deductions and exemptions. Those numbers are going to come down. Otherwise, they'd get a tax break."
Or, we could just say "no", Romney could not give a specific example, and he never did.
Paul Ryan getting ready to verbosely say absolutely nothing. Asked if voters deserved specifics on the Romney-Ryan tax proposals, Ryan said—not really—but said it in so many words it sounded like a "secret plan."
In fact, ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked Ryan: "Don't voters have a right to know which loopholes you're going to go after?"
Ryan answered: "So, Mitt Romney and I, based on our experience, think the best way to do this, is to show the framework, show the outlines of these plans, and then to work with Congress to do this. That's how you get things done."
Stephanopoulos then asked Ryan: "Isn't that a secret plan?"
Ryan replied: "No, no...no, no...what we don't want is a secret plan. What we don't want to do is cut some backroom deal like Obamacare, and then hatch it to the country."
Stephanopoulos again pointed out if that was the motive, to be open with the voters, why not specify the loopholes. And at this point, Ryan was obviously getting frustrated, and his reply was, well, kind of confusing:
"Because we wanna have this debate in the public. We wanna have this debate with Congress. And we want to do this with the consent of the elected representatives of the people, and figure out what loopholes should stay or go, and who should or should not get them, and our priorities are high-income earners should not get these kinds of loopholes, and we should have broad-based policies that go to middle-class taxpayers, to make sure we can advance things that we care about like charities, but that is a debate we shouldn't cut in the back room, we shouldn't hatch a secret plan like Obamacare, we should do it out in the public view, where the public can participate."
Neither did Stephanopoulos.
He tried one more time with Ryan: "That's exactly what I'm suggesting—having it in public, before the election, so that voters can have that information before they make up their minds."
"We think the best way to get—look, I've been in Congress a number of years, I've been on the Ways and Means Committee for twelve years, and we think the best way to do this is to get this framework in place, and then negotiate, work with Democrats, work with people across the aisle...have these kinds of hearings, have this kind of information to get this objective."
Stephanopoulos gave up at that point. The answer is—NO, Romney-Ryan actually does not think the public has any right to know the specifics of their tax proposal before the election.
That was one, rather astounding, revelation. Earlier in his explanation Ryan, in attempting to explain the advantages of cutting tax rates for the wealthy, while eliminating their tax breaks, appeared to say that the wealthy would be paying more taxes than before, thus, as Ryan claimed:
"Now the question is not necessarily what loopholes go, but who gets them. High income earners use most of the loopholes. That means they can shelter their income from taxation. But if you take those loopholes, those tax shelters, away from high-income earners, more of their income is subject to taxation, and that allows us to lower tax rates on everybody."
But, on Meet the Press, Mitt Romney claimed this about high income taxpayers:
"I'm bringing down the rate of taxation, but also bringing down deductions and exemptions at the high end so the revenues stay the same, the taxes people pay stay the same."This raises the question: if "taxes people pay stay the same" under Romney-Ryan's tax proposal, why then should exposing more high-income to the lower tax rate produce a situation, as Paul Ryan claims, that "allows us to lower tax rates on everybody"?
This is just one example of what Bill Clinton was talking about on Wednesday, where the Romney-Ryan "arithmetic" just does not add up properly. Of course, we're adding "principles" and "frameworks", not specifics, which is why people keep asking for the specifics, and presumably why Romney-Ryan keep refusing to supply them.
In addition, the political math of spewing the most inane doubletalk onto the American people about things most voters can understand—like pols refusing to give details of plans they allege will be great for everybody—also doesn't add up for Republicans. As of Monday morning, Obama continues to increase his lead over Romney nationally and in battleground states.