Friday, August 17, 2012

On Romney Policy Details, It's Jennifer Rubin Vs. The World (And Jennifer Rubin)

SIMON MALOY/Media Matters for America

Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post thinks the Romney-Ryan campaign has been exquisitely detailed in their explanations of their economic policies. And this puts her in rare company, since even the Romney-Ryan campaign says they're purposefully avoiding detailed discussions of the ideas they have in store for the country.
Writing on her Post blog this morning, Rubin gave the Republican ticket a high-five for their ability to "explain their plans" for Medicare and the economy:
Romney has his whiteboard to explain Medicare. Ryan has his charts and PowerPoint slides. They really can explain their plans and do the math. In this reality-based company, the president (who thinks ATMs cause unemployment) is out of his element. Hence, the resort to increasingly nasty language. If he had good answers for these questions, he might not be descending into the political sewer. Unfortunately for him, there isn't a chart that can explain how higher taxes are going to make our economic outlook rosier. The math just doesn't work.
"Do the math." Interesting choice of words, given that earlier this week, Paul Ryan told Brit Hume point-blank that they haven't been doing any math:
HUME: But what about [budget] balance?
RYAN: Well I don't know exactly when it balances because -- I don't want to get wonky on you but we haven't run the numbers on that specific plan yet.
And then there's this gobsmacking sentence from a Politico article this morning which relates the campaign's purposeful evasion of detail on Medicare, owing to what they see as the "suicidal" nature of an in-depth policy discussion:
To be sure, the debate is likely to be more sniping than substance -- more attacks on Obama than parsing of the options for entitlement reform. Advisers say the campaign has no plans to pivot from its previous view that diving into details during a general-election race would be suicidal.
This all plays into what Rubin's colleague Greg Sargent calls the [extra space]"just trust me" campaign, in which Romney and his surrogates talk proudly and openly about withholding details of the candidate's plans until after the election:
In one sense, Romney is throwing down the gauntlet before the news media. He is betting that the media will either fail to hold him accountable for his refusal to share basic info about his finances and policies with the American people before they choose their president -- or that those efforts won't matter, because the public simply won't be informed enough either way to know the difference or just won't care at all. In other words, Romney is betting on media incompetence -- its inability to inform the public -- or on voter apathy, or on a combination of both, to allow him to skate through.
And, just for good measure, let's travel all the way back in time to August 7, a mere 10 days ago, when Jennifer Rubin defended Romney's tax plan from charges that it would raise taxes on the middle class by arguing that "the plan has insufficient details" to make that assumption:
The study is no more than a model, a model in which the assumptions do not correspond to the Romney plan (because the plan has insufficient details). In fact, the authors never got any specifics from the Romney plan. So, as I reported previously, the authors simply stuck in what they think the Romney people could use (continuing to exclude municipal bond interest and life insurance contracts from income, for example). And wouldn't you know it, the numbers don't "add up"! The assumptions made by the authors may be good tax policy or bad tax policy, but that is not what the authors say they are doing; instead they say they are showing that Romney's plan is "impossible."
So even Jennifer Rubin doesn't think the Romney campaign has been overly detailed. Someone should tell Jennifer Rubin.
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