NOW With Alex Wagner, 10/17/12, 8:00 PM ET

Doing the math on the Romney tax plan

John Heilemann from New York Magazine, Rolling Stone’s Eric Bates, TheGrio.com’s Joy Reid, and Executive Editor of MSNBC.com Richard Wolffe seize on the fuzzy math of the Romney tax plan – and cut to President Barack Obama in New Hampshire on the stump...

Why doesn’t Romney’s ‘sketchy’ tax plan disqualify him in voters’ minds?

Updated

Alex Wagner and the panel began Thursday’s show discussing the latest data regarding Governor Mitt Romney’s $5-trillion tax plan. Pressed by members of the media for more specifics in recent weeks, the Republican nominee has suggested that one way to pay for his 20% across-the-board tax cut is to put a hard cap on the amount of deductions individuals can claim on their tax forms.

On three recent occasions Romney has suggested a $17,000, $25,000 and $50,000 limit on itemized deductions as a way of boosting revenue to offset his proposed lower tax rates.

However, the number-crunchers at the Tax Policy Center released a new study Wednesday showing that even if the former Massachusetts governor were to eliminate all deductions, it would only result in a gain of $2-trillion in revenue – still $3 trillion shy of Romney’s stated goal of deficit-neutrality.

The Tax Policy Center also did the math on the three scenarios Romney has suggested to date, computing that a $17,000 limit would raise $1.7 trillion, a $25,000 limit would net $1.3 trillion and a $50,000 limit would raise $760 billion.

During Tuesday night’s debate, President Obama called Gov. Romney’s tax and revenue plan a “sketchy deal”:

If somebody came to you, Governor, with a plan that said, here, I want to spend $7 or $8 trillion, and then we’re going to pay for it, but we can’t tell you until maybe after the election how we’re going to do it, you wouldn’t take such a sketchy deal and neither should you, the American people, because the math doesn’t add up.


“The president has had the winning hand on taxes for a long time,” New York Magazine’s John Heilemann argued, noting that President Obama’s plan to raise taxes on families making over $250,000 a year polls very well with the public at large.

While Romney’s plan is “obviously vague and patently ridiculous,” Heilemann said, we have yet to see it disqualify him in the minds of voters. In fact, according to recent polls, Romney is currently leading the president on the key issue of who would do a better job in turning around the economy.

This may be attributable to Mitt Romney’s signature “business presentation style” which he uses during debates and out on the campaign trail to obscure the real numbers and muddy the waters in the minds of voters, according to TheGrio’s Joy-Ann Reid. The governor’s tendency to roll off a bunch of figures, irrespective of their accuracy, “makes him sound like he’s being specific even when he’s not,” she added.

msnbc.com Executive Editor Richard Wolffe wasn’t fooled by the language and style surrounding the tax plan. “It undermines every piece of his credibility,” he said.

Why doesn't Romney's 'sketchy' tax plan disqualify him in voters' minds?

Updated