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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Romney Ad Says Obama Distorts Tax Cut Claim


In a television ad released Sunday, the Romney campaign returned to one of the most contentious issues of the presidential debate to accuse President Obama of falsely claiming Mitt Romney would cut $5 trillion in taxes.

Mr. Obama repeated the accusation several times in the debate last Wednesday. Mr. Obama's assertion about the $5 trillion in tax cuts has been a staple of Democrats' accusations that Mr. Romney's economic plans favor the rich.

“President Obama continues to distort Mitt Romney's economic plan,'' the narrator of the ad says. “The latest? Not telling the truth about Mitt Romney's tax plan.''

The ad cites an independent fact-check by The Associated Press and even includes a sound bite of Stephanie Cutter, Mr. Obama's deputy campaign manager, telling CNN, “Well, okay, stipulated, it won't be near $5 trillion.”

The issue turns on semantics as much as math. Mr. Romney has proposed a packag e of tax cuts, including a 20 percent reduction in marginal income tax rates and zeroing out estate taxes, as well as making permanent the Bush-era tax cuts. Add everything up and the theoretical loss of federal revenue over 10 years is $5 trillion, according to the independent Tax Policy Center.

But that is only half the story. Mr. Romney describes his proposal as “revenue neutral'' â€" any hole punched in the annual deficit would be filled by eliminating tax deductions on high earners and closing other loopholes.

“I'm not looking for a $5 trillion tax cut,'' Mr. Romney insisted in the debate. “What I've said is I won't put in place a tax cut that adds to the deficit. That's part one. So there's no economist that can say Mitt Romney's tax plan adds $5 trillion if I say I will not add to the deficit with my tax plan.''

Mr. Romney has left himself open to the Democrats' attacks by not specifying how he would make up the l oss in revenue, specifically which tax deductions he would eliminate. And he also counts on his plan to spur economic growth and add to tax collections, a proposition that federal budget experts have difficulty factoring into their estimates.

The issue is hardly going away. On Thursday Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who will face Representative Paul D. Ryan in a vice presidential debate this week, mocked Mr. Romney's claims about his tax proposals. “Last night we found out he doesn't have a $5 trillion tax cut,'' he said. “I guess he outsourced that to China or something.''