In repeatedly denying during Wednesday’s night debate that his proposed 20 percent across-the-board tax cut would cut government revenues by $5 trillion over 10 years, Mitt Romney stopped short of providing his own figure for how much the proposal would cost the Treasury. Asked by TPM what the accurate cost of Romney’s tax rate cuts would be, Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul dodged: “His tax reform proposal is revenue-neutral,” she said. So it has gone throughout the campaign. Neither Romney nor his campaign nor his economic advisers have ever specified the cost in lost revenue of his sweeping tax cut proposal. Instead they have insisted that he can bring down all income tax rates by 20 percent without adding to the deficit, largely by scaling back deductions and credits for high-income earners. But he and his campaign have refused to specify a single tax loophole he would target in order to offset the cost of the tax cuts.
There’s no denying that President Obama was awful in the debate last night, and Jim Leherer was quite possibly the worst moderator in debate history.
Clearly Romney won, but he won at the expense of the truth. He lied and lied and lied, and completely got away with it, unchallenged by the president or the moderator.
I’m sure this will fire up Republican partisans who aren’t thrilled about Romney, and it will infuriate Democratic partisans who wanted their guy to fight back, just once.
But I don’t think it makes a huge difference in the polls, especially in swing states. It probably brings a few Republicans home for Romney, but it doesn’t pull weak Obama supporters away from the president, especially since the national political discussion seems to be not that Romney wiped the floor with Obama last night, but that Romney did it by lying, misrepresenting himself and his plans, bullying everyone in sight, and just generally being a dick.
Like I said, I’m sure that fires up people who just hate Obama no matter what, but I don’t think it does much to pull away people who weren’t already looking for something — anything — to like about Romney.
But Obama has got to show up at the next debate, ready to brawl. If he doesn’t do that, and Romney’s lies go unchallenged again, it will definitely hurt the president.