Friday, October 12, 2012

No, six studies did not debunk the Tax Policy Center’s finding on the Romney tax plan


Dylan Matthews/The Washington Post
Paul Ryan repeated his campaign’s talking point that six studies have debunked the Tax Policy Center’s claim that it is “mathematically impossible” 

Paul Ryan repeated his campaign’s talking point that six studies have debunked the Tax Policy Center’s claim that it is “mathematically impossible” for Romney to implement all his tax cuts, achieve revenue neutrality, not raise taxes on the middle class, and not raise taxes on investments.
I can’t believe we have to keep saying this, but no, six studies did not say that. One study, from Harvard’s Martin Feldstein, only found that the Romney plan is possible by fiddling with the definition of “middle class”, and confirmed TPC’s finding under the definition TPC used. Another, from AEI’s Matt Jensen, found that if you subject some investment income, namely interest on state and local bonds, to taxes, the plan need not raise middle class taxes. But that leaves TPC’s claim untouched. Another, from Princeton’s Harvey Rosen, relied on implausibly high estimates of the growth effects of the Romney tax plan, and even then confirmed the TPC finding when comparing the plan to a baseline where the Bush tax cuts expire. And another, from the Heritage Foundation’s Charles Dubay, is based on a misestimation of the cost of an obscure estate tax provision.
What’s more, not all of these are actual studies. Jensen’s critique, for example, came in the form of a blog post. That says nothing about its quality, just that the Romney campaign’s characterization is a bit odd. Only three working papers or studies – one from Rosen, one from Dubay, and one from Feldstein – attempt to rebut the TPC study, and none succeed in rebutting TPC’s actual points.
In short, the Romney plan is mathematically impossible. Biden is right. Ryan is wrong.
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