Better Answers Please

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In the weeks since the presidential debate, the race for the White House has become much closer. One could say this was inevitable as the race drew nearer, and that it’s not as close as many news outlets are making it out to be; after all, close races make for better television. However, I think there is no doubt that Mitt Romney, who was significantly behind in the polls before the debate, has definitely improved his chances since, and that most would agree (myself included) that this is in part due to his performance at the debate. He most definitely won the debate, and came out looking like the better candidate. Romney looked at Obama when Obama was talking; Obama on the other hand, appeared to be rather enthralled with his podium whenever Romney spoke.

But, most importantly, none of Obama’s intended criticisms seemed to stick to Romney. The whole time I was watching the debate I found myself trying to find an explanation. I think, most likely, it had to do with the fact that whenever Obama would reference an analysis of Romney’s proposed policies, mention arithmetic, or simply say that Romney’s policies didn’t add up, Romney would counter with what essentially boils down to, “that’s not true”.

This, in fact, has been a very effective counter since the debates as well. In multiple interviews, when asked what deductions and loopholes Romney’s new tax code would get rid, of his answers have been vague. When Chris Wallace asked Paul Ryan to detail the plan, Paul Ryan said the math would take too long. When Mitt Romney was recently asked if he would think of introducing a deduction cap into his plan, he said he would consider it – possibly a $17,000, $25,000, or $50,000 cap. When asked if, when that cap was implemented, the saved money would pay for the estimated 5 trillion dollar tax cut in his plan, he said that number was wrong due to the fact that it doesn’t take into account the deductions.

At first glance that sounds like a credible retort: “The figure you’re citing is wrong, which is why these numbers do in fact add up and my plan works!” But take a closer look. This is double-speak at it’s finest. The question, boiled down to its essence, is “your tax plan has a five trillion dollar hole. You plan to fill the whole with saved money from deductions, so do your deductions equal five trillion dollars?” His answer, instead of being a “yes” or “no”, or a further explanation, was instead, essentially, “five trillion is the wrong number because it doesn’t take into account the deductions.”

But deductions are the exact issue he’s being asked about. If this question was on the SAT, Mitt Romney would have failed; and if America was a run like a business (as many Romney supporters claim it should be) and CEO Mitt Romney gave that answer to support the credibility of his company, would you buy stock? I wouldn’t.

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