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Monday, December 09, 2019

Debate Arithmetic, Round Two

Mitt Romney’s most glaring arithmetic falsehoods from the first debate reappeared last night, along with some new ones.

It’s still impossible to spend more and take in less without increasing the deficit. It’s also impossible to cut domestic spending drastically without increasing unemployment, and most people realize that claiming four years is the same as 10 years just doesn’t work when it comes to job creation.

For me, the most interesting Romneyism was the use of percentages to change the meaning of the word “same.”

He said the top earners would pay the same – 60%. The problem for our national deficit is that when you lower the total taxes collected, it increases the deficit. It would be great for the richest among us, since they’ll enjoy 60% of that total tax cut as extra money to put into their Cayman Islands accounts.

Unfortunately, it will hasten the day when America goes broke, and can’t borrow the money to pay for Social Security and Medicare benefits.

Maybe that’s the plan, after all.

In the meantime, Romney thinks that America is stupid enough to believe that 60% of less money is somehow the same amount of revenue, as long as the percentage is still 60%.

He may claim that the loss in revenue will be offset by spending cuts, but certainly not by cutting out PBS and Planned Parenthood.

Let’s not forget the plan to increase military spending by $2 trillion above the Joint Chiefs’ requested budgets and the promise to reinstate $716 billion of Medicare corporate welfare. And there was the promise not to cut the education budget.

That only leaves the Veterans’ Administration, Medicaid, agriculture and some odds and ends like the CDC, the National Weather Service or the Air Traffic Control system. But who among us believes he will keep his GOP supporters in line if he proposes to cut every dime out of agriculture? The VA? The federal prison system? Who thinks even the smaller federal programs like drug safety, air traffic, etc. will actually be cut out?

The bottom line:

Last night Romney proposed that we double the deficit, and make sure the richest get yet another round of lower absolute taxes.

Such a deal. And now we can enjoy using a new definition for the word “same.”

 

Howard Hill is a former investment banker who created a number of groundbreaking deal structures and analytic techniques on Wall Street, and later helped manage a $100 billion portfolio.  He writes and blogs at mindonmoney.wordpress.com. Follow on Twitter: @hhill61

Photo credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster

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