Debate 2012: Obama Cites Debunked Study on Romney’s Tax Plan
Lachlan Markay /
During tonight’s debate, President Obama touted an analysis of Governor Mitt Romney’s tax plan that is fatally flawed and has been debunked by a policy expert at Heritage.
The analysis, conducted by the Tax Policy Center — a joint venture of the urban institute and Brookings Institution — concluded that to achieve significant cuts in tax deductions and loopholes – something the governor has said he favors – he would necessarily have to raise taxes on lower income earners, while reducing the tax burden on top earners.
Heritage tax policy expert Curtis Dubay debunked that analysis in a September backgrounder:
The Tax Policy Center is the industry standard for producing high-quality tax data that are integral to tax policy debates. However, in this TPC report, the authors’ choices and assumptions lead them to a carefully chosen result that is misleading and biased. This hinders the debate on tax reform because lawmakers and the public need accurate information to make good decisions.
At best, this TPC analysis confirms that tax reform will require political leaders to make difficult decisions. This is self-evident. If tax reform were easy, Washington would have reformed the current 26-year-old code long ago.
To provide a more thorough analysis of Governor Romney’s plan, the authors should show other ways to frame their analysis—including one that fully captures all of the plan’s aims—to give a more detailed account of the issues his plan presents. They should also show the various ways that his plan could be revenue and distributionally neutral. Using dynamic analysis to evaluate the plan would further inform the public about the Romney plan because it would show its benefits, not just its costs.
An analysis on these grounds would move the debate forward rather than weigh it down with flawed results.
The president is fond of citing the TPC study, but its many flawed assumptions make it a faulty analysis of Romney’s tax plan.