Following up on earlier item, Paul Ryan is facing some criticisms after dodging Fox News questions yesterday, saying he doesn't "have the time" to explain why his tax and budget figures don't add up. Today, the Republican congressman talked to Wisconsin radio host Charlie Sykes, and gave this another shot.
For those who can't listen to clips online, here's the heart of Ryan's response:
"Look, the point -- you know, I like [Fox News' Chris Wallace], I didn't want to get into all of the math of this, and have everybody start changing the channel. Look, we raise $1.2 trillion or so in the income tax every year. And we have about a $1 trillion every year in tax preferences. And the people who use most of those are people in the higher income brackets.
"And so what we're saying is, we're going to lower tax rates for everybody across the board by 20%, and we can pay for that without losing revenue by closing loopholes for people at the top end of the income scale. Everybody gets lower tax rates as a result. And you can keep these preferences for middle class taxpayers and have 20% lower tax rates."
No, you really can't. For one thing, Ryan makes it sound as if he can eliminate $1 trillion a year "in tax preferences," which in turn can finance tax cuts. But even putting aside the dubious nature of the figure itself, Romney has already said the home-mortgage-interest deduction, the health care deduction, and the charitable-contribution deduction are all off the table. If Ryan is serious about identifying $1 trillion a year in savings from deductions, loopholes, and exemptions, he's going to offer some details or it's impossible to take the rhetoric seriously. The arithmetic just isn't there.
For another, let's also not forget that the Romney-Ryan plan also calls for increased defense and entitlement spending, which the candidates can't even pretend to pay for.
And finally, Ryan added in the same interview, "When you're offering very specific, bold solutions, confusion can be your enemy's best weapon."
As Jon Chait joked, "In other words, when you're specific and bold, your enemy will try to trap you into being specific. Don't let them!"