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Letters to the Editor

October 30, 2012

Romney's numbersdon't add up

Romney’s tax proposal should trouble everyone. An across-the-board 20 percent rate reduction made deficit neutral by closing deductions, reducing government spending and improving the economy sounds good, but can it be realized?

The kind of changes will determine who, if any, will see an actual reduction in their tax bill. Does he think he can dictate changes. Won’t everyone — parents, realtors and builders, small and large businesses — be lobbying to keep their deductions? Talk about legislative gridlock and economic uncertainty.

So how about those savings? He has said he wants to restore the hundreds of millions of savings planned for Medicare expenditures. And he wants to add billions to defense. So what does he cut: disaster aid, basic research, infrastructure projects, unemployment insurance, loan guarantees to small businesses and students, veterans services? Can states afford to pick up more of the slack? Can the economy absorb tens of thousands of fired federal workers? Must our children face a degraded environment and infrastructure so we might hold on to a few more dollars? More gridlock and uncertainty.

For his plan to come close to working he needs his hoped-for 12 million new jobs. The problem is that no president can build them all by his lonesome. Presidents are bound by the Constitution, political realities and the complex and interconnected nature of a free and global economy. To grow, an economy needs not just ideas and investors, it needs buyers, skilled workers, effective regulation, cutting edge research, and an efficient and reliable infrastructure. Context matters. And government has always had a vital role in providing the context for success. Remember “promote the common welfare?”

Romney’s plan requires more hope than change. Better to stay with the comprehensive, long-range vision of a leader already dealing with reality.

Duncan Smith


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