Analysts at the Tax Policy Center estimated that Romney could not both cut rates and maintain revenue neutrality, and published an estimate that this would necessitate an $86 billion tax increase on the middle class. Many of the center’s assumptions were either tendentious or incorrect, as we argued in an earlier editorial, and as has been amply demonstrated by budget scholars at the American Enterprise Institute and elsewhere. The center later cut its $86 billion estimate by more than half. And even that doesn’t quite get the story: For example, Romney proposes to “pay for” repealing the taxes associated with Obamacare by (this is a subtle point) repealing Obamacare, and no further offset is required. According to AEI’s Alex Brill, the Romney plan could produce anything from a $14 billion shortfall that would need to be made up elsewhere to a $1 billion surplus, depending upon how the plan is implemented and how fast the economy grows. An extra one-tenth of 1 percent in annual economic growth substantially changes the federal fiscal picture for the better. That fact, of course, is the animating idea behind Romney’s tax-reform agenda, the point of which is not to lower federal revenue but to increase economic growth by simplifying tax law, lowering compliance costs, and reducing economic distortions.
The Obama campaign’s dishonesty about this is striking even by the very low standards of Democratic election rhetoric. But the White House is also misleading the public about the consequences of its economic policies, specifically about elevating levels of federal spending that have produced an unbroken chain of deficits exceeding $1 trillion — which ultimately will force a very large tax increase on, yes, the middle class and all other taxpayers.