Friday, Aug. 3, 2012 | 2 a.m.
I can’t make it to this morning’s Mitt Romney event in North Las Vegas, but here are some questions I’m hoping the assembled media will ask him:
1. Your economic plan includes a 20 percent across-the-board cut in marginal tax rates. You’ve promised to increase defense spending and not cut entitlement programs for the elderly. As you know, roughly 60 percent of the federal budget is defense, Social Security, Medicare and interest on the debt. You’ve declined to specify which programs you would cut or which tax deductions and loopholes you would eliminate.
How is it possible that your economic program won’t increase the deficit, as you’ve promised?
2. During the eight years of the presidency of George W. Bush, American incomes declined, poverty increased, the number of Americans without health insurance soared, the federal budget deficit and debt grew, and when he left office, the economy was losing 700,000 jobs per month. Bush’s economic policy was to cut taxes, as he did in 2001 and 2003, and limit new regulations on energy and financial services and other sectors.
Let’s be fair and say Bush can’t be blamed entirely for the financial crisis and that there’s more to the economy than a set of government policies. Still, it seems reasonable to ask: Where did Bush’s policies go wrong? And how are your policies substantially different than his?
3. The Tax Policy Center, which your campaign noted for its “objective, third-party analysis” during the Republican primary campaign, recently released a paper saying your tax plan — cutting marginal income tax rates and paying for it by eliminating deductions and loopholes — would require tax increases on the middle class. The analysis goes like this: Eliminating tax loopholes and deductions and so forth doesn’t produce enough money to pay for the large cost of tax cuts, especially on upper incomes. Your campaign has attacked the analysis for failing to incorporate your own more optimistic economic growth assumptions that you say will come from cutting corporate tax rates, also paid for by reducing loopholes and deductions.
Will you release a more detailed analysis disproving the Tax Policy Center’s conclusion?
4. What would be the consequences, both good and bad, of an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities? Please include economic, geo-political and humanitarian consequences.
5. Has the “War on Drugs” been successful? If so, what’s to explain the steady and even increasing use among teenagers of marijuana and prescription drugs for recreational purposes despite hundreds of billions of dollars spent during the past several decades? If it hasn’t been successful, why not and what would you do about it?
6. What has been your effective federal tax rate for each of the past 10 years? You paid an effective rate of 13.9 percent on your 2010 income; if your tax rate was similar in prior years, do you think it’s just and fair that your tax rate has been lower than many middle-class Americans?
P.S. Yes, I’ll have questions for the other guy the next time he’s in town.