Mitt Romney has an arithmetic problem. He intends to cut taxes, increase defense spending, increase entitlement spending, and cut the deficit -- a budget-policy recipe that translates into complete gibberish.
Not so, says the Republican. Once various tax deductions are eliminated, the numbers will add up just fine.
Which tax deductions? Romney doesn't want to tell you.
In a wide-ranging interview with Time Magazine, Mitt Romney declined to say which deductions he would eliminate from the tax code in order to make his plan to cut tax rates across the board revenue-neutral.
"I know our Democrat [sic] friends would love to have me specify one or two so they could amass the special interest to fight that effort," Romney told managing editor Richard Stengel when asked to specify which deductions he would eliminate.
This just won't do. Romney could release his tax returns, but he won't because he's afraid Democrats will be mean to him. Romney could disclose his bundlers, but he won't because he's afraid Democrats will be mean to him. Romney could provide detailed policy agenda, but he won't because he's afraid voters won't like the specifics.
And he could point to the tax deductions he'll rely on -- exclusively -- to lower the deficit, but he's afraid to do that, too.
And John Sununu thinks Obama's a "wuss"? Much of Romney's policy platform is predicated on cowardice and fear that someone might yell at him. As Jamison Foser put it, it's "amazing" that Romney thinks "'because I'll be criticized if I do' is a compelling reason for not disclosing things."
Of course, it's also worth noting that in the same interview, Romney said the home-mortgage-interest deduction, the health care deduction, and the charitable-contribution deduction would all be protected if he's elected.
As it turns out, these tend to be the deductions with the biggest price tags -- meaning that if Romney considers all of them off-limits, while he's slashing taxes and increasing spending, it will be literally impossible for him to make his numbers add up.
Paul Ryan recently conceded that campaign officials "haven't run the numbers" on the bigger budget picture. Is it any wonder why not?