On “Fox News Sunday,” Chris Wallace repeatedly asked Paul Ryan to explain how the math on his tax plan added up. Ryan pretended not to understand Wallace’s question, called the Tax Policy Center study “thoroughly debunked” when it’s not even been dented, and, finally, retreated behind a particularly sad excuse for a politician who built his reputation on explaining policy in understandable terms: “It would take me too long to go through all the math.”
Aside from betraying the principles of policy communication that Ryan once stood for, this response isn’t even true. It doesn’t take very long at all to go through the math. In fact, it’s only a few steps.
1) In 2015, the Romney-Ryan rate reduction will reduce tax revenue by $480 billion compared to current policy. That’s the raw number, before you start arguing over behavioral responses or growth.
2) Of that $480 billion, 39.1 percent, or $187 billion, will go to the top 1 percent.
3) Since the Romney-Ryan plan isn’t supposed to cut taxes on the rich or increase the deficit, all Romney and Ryan need to do is identify $480 billion in tax breaks they’re going to close, of which at least $187 billion needs to come from the top 1 percent.
4) If they believe that accelerated economic growth or behavioral responses are going to close some of that gap for them, they need to say how much, and what they’re basing that assumption on.
That’s it. This isn’t advanced calculus. It’s arithmetic.
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