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Filling in the gaps on a vague agenda

<p>One of the key takeaways of Mitt Romney's and Paul Ryan's largely unsuccessful appearances on the Sunday shows was obvious: there

One of the key takeaways of Mitt Romney's and Paul Ryan's largely unsuccessful appearances on the Sunday shows was obvious: there's growing impatience over the Republicans' refusal to discuss policy details.

As it turns out, if Romney and Ryan won't fill in the gaps of their own agenda, the Obama campaign will happily do it for them.

In this new spot, set to air in Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, and Virginia, the voiceover tells viewers, "Mitt Romney, he won't reveal what's in his taxes and he won't tell you what he'd do to yours. To pay for huge, new tax breaks for millionaires like him, Romney would have to raise taxes on the middle class. Two thousand dollars for a family with children says a non-partisan report. You could lose the deduction for your home mortgage, college tuition, health care. How much would you pay? Romney just won't say."

The larger issue goes well beyond one new ad. As Paul Waldman explained yesterday, Mitt Romney has arrived at the moment at which "his unwillingness to reveal exactly what he wants to do in a variety of policy areas is becoming a story in its own right. "

Indeed, after Romney and Ryan struggled to even dodge questions about specifics on Sunday, the questions have intensified. Politico noted yesterday that in the span of 24 hours, Romney/Ryan took heat for vague promises from Rupert Murdoch, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, The Weekly Standard, former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham, prominent GOP strategists, and others.

And that's just from the conservative wing of the GOP. Waldman noted similar pieces from the L.A. Times, NPR, TPM, and Salon.

The campaign seems to be well aware of the problem, but recently said they simply can't provide voters with specific policy details -- to do so would be politically "suicidal."

The funny thing about this? They're right.

Paul Krugman had a good item on this yesterday.

...I've spoken to journalists who are sure that Romney will be forced to say more before Election Day. No he won't. He might lose for lack of detail, but no detail will be provided, for a very simple reason: his proposals don't add up. He literally can't do what he says he would do, namely cut tax rates on the rich without raising the tax burden on the middle class or making the deficit surge; nor can he propose spending cuts as large as he claims without cutting deeply into programs people depend on.Another way of saying this, of course, is that his alleged budget plan is actually a fraud.

That's true, but we can go further. Romney won't go into detail on his budget plan because his numbers don't add up, and the more specifics he offers, the more obvious this becomes.

But let's not forget that Romney also can't offer voters policy details on issues like health care because the American mainstream would be repulsed by the specifics.

We're left with a candidate who could tell voters about his budget plan, his intentions for undocumented immigrants already living in the United States, his health care agenda after he destroys the Affordable Care Act, and his policy for U.S. troops in Afghanistan, but he chooses not to -- in part because Romney's policies don't make a lot of sense and in part because he's quite certain he'd lose if Americans learned the whole truth.