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Sunday, December 11, 2016

“It’s not easy to debate a liar,” complained an email from one observer of the first presidential debate  — and there was no question about which candidate he meant. Prevarication, falsification, fabrication are all familiar tactics that have been employed by Mitt Romney without much consequence to him ever since he entered public life, thanks to the inviolable taboo in the mainstream media against calling out a liar (unless, of course, he lies about sex).

Yes, President Obama ought to have been better prepared for Romney’s barrage of blather and bull. The Republican’s own chief advisor, Eric Fehrnstrom, had glibly described the “Etch-a-Sketch” strategy they would deploy in the general election, to make swing voters forget the “severe conservative” of the primaries. Romney executed that pivot on Wednesday night, but he could do so only by spouting literally dozens of provably fraudulent assertions — which various diligent fact-checkers proceeded to debunk.

Knowing that he is vulnerable on taxation and the budget for many reasons, including his own peculiar and secretive tax history, Romney made several contradictory claims regarding his economic plan. He has no plan to lavish $5 trillion in tax breaks on the wealthy. He won’t cut taxes for the rich at all. He vowed to provide tax relief to the middle class and won’t increase their tax burden. He swore that his tax cuts would not increase the deficit.

Finally, he said that with all of that, he would grow the economy enough to shrink and eventually eliminate the deficit — without raising taxes on anyone. And he claimed that there are several studies proving he can fulfill all of these conflicting promises — even though he refuses to provide any specific tax proposals beyond a broad tax cut.

There is no study proving that Romney can do what he promised – and among his lies is his description of editorials in Tthe Wall Street Journal as “studies” of his plan. The most complete and unrefuted study of his claims remains the Tax Policy Center’s bipartisan report on the Romney plan, which shows that there is simply no way to pay for his $5 trillion, across-the-board tax cut without raising taxes on the middle class. None of the alternative studies he has cited proves otherwise – and some of them actually amass additional evidence that he is wrong.

Undoubtedly he knows all that. He knows that eliminating the estate tax, a mainstay of his plan, will benefit the rich enormously and almost nobody else.

He also knows that when he claims economic growth alone will erase the deficit, without raising taxes, he is inventing impossible numbers. As The National Memo’s Howard Hill demonstrated yesterday, the assumptions behind his claims are ridiculous. For the numbers to work, he would have to create not 12 million jobs, as he promised to do by 2016, but 162 million — more than the total current U.S. workforce. Or else the jobs created would have to pay more than $443,000 per year on average — which is even less likely than Rafalca winning the dressage medal at the next Summer Olympics.

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