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Thursday, December 8, 2016

WASHINGTON — Maybe Rick Santorum is helping Mitt Romney after all: Santorum’s wacky statements about college and snobbery, along with his upset stomach over a 52-year-old John F. Kennedy speech, are distracting attention from Romney’s extremist economic ideas.

Yes, Romney needs Santorum to keep doing his exotic fan dance on social issues because the stage act diverts everyone (especially journalists) from examining the reactionary and regressive ideas Romney is cooking up on substantive questions. If Romneyism is what now passes for “moderation” in the Republican Party, no wonder the authentically moderate Olympia Snowe decided to end her distinguished career in the Senate. There is no room anymore for proposals remotely worthy of the moderate label.

Romney’s plan is simultaneously extreme and very, very boring. It draws on the one and only idea that today’s conservatives offer for solving any and every problem that comes along: just throw yet more money at rich people.

At his moment of triumph Tuesday night after his necessary victories in Michigan and Arizona, a bit of inspiration from Romney would have been nice. Instead, he detailed a list of tax changes that might lift the spirits of accountants and lawyers for wealthy Americans across our great nation, while sending everyone else off to the fridge for a beer.

Romney promised to enact an “across-the-board, 20 percent rate cut for every American,” pledged to “repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax,” and said he’d abolish the “death tax.” (The “death tax” is conservative-speak for the estate tax paid by only the most affluent Americans.) He’d lower the corporate tax rate to 25 percent, “make the R&D tax credit permanent to foster innovation,” and “end the repatriation tax to return investment back to our shores.”