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Romney tries again on tax policy

A few days before the New Hampshire primary, Mitt Romney officially unveiled his tax plan, which was immediately labeled "Bush Tax Cuts on steroids.

A few days before the New Hampshire primary, Mitt Romney officially unveiled his tax plan, which was immediately labeled "Bush Tax Cuts on steroids." In an unexpected twist, Romney, by scrapping existing tax breaks for working families, actually proposed raising taxes on the bottom 20%, while offering the wealthy another windfall.

The left was disgusted, but the right wasn't impressed either, dismissing Romney's tax agenda as too "timid." So, calling a mulligan, the Romney campaign presented a brand new tax plan today.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, seeking to kick-start his presidential campaign among recalcitrant conservatives, will propose cutting the top income tax for individuals to 28%, advisers said today.Mr. Romney's earlier economic plan called only for preserving the current top tax rate of 35%, while holding out the promise of lower rates later in an overhaul of the tax code. But facing a major challenge from upstart Republican rival Rick Santorum, he has chosen to outline such an overhaul today in Arizona ahead of critical Feb. 28 primaries there and in Michigan -- and before a televised debate tonight in Mesa.

The Romney plan, the outline of which is online, would cut 20% from every tax bracket. The campaign insists the plan would be "revenue neutral" -- that is, it wouldn't add to the deficit -- but Romney aides have offered literally no details to explain how their massive, across-the-board tax cuts would be paid for, or why the wealthiest Americans need yet another expensive, permanent tax break.

What's more, there's ample reason to believe Romney's claims about revenue neutrality are simply untrue. A preliminary analysis from the Center for American Progress Tax and Budget Policy Director Michael Linden found the new plan "clocking in at a cost of more than $10.7 trillion over the next decade and reducing revenue to a paltry 15 percent of GDP."

There will be plenty of additional analysis and scrutiny of the plan in the coming days, but in the meantime, it's also worth noting a rhetorical shift in today's announcement. As David Kurtz explained, Romney, as recently as a few weeks ago, insisted that any references to the "99%" or the "1%" were necessarily evidence of class warfare. To even consider identifying the two classes, Romney said, was divisive, if not un-American. And yet, today, it was none other than Mitt Romney talking about about making "sure the top 1% keeps paying, paying the current share they're paying or more."

When the Occupy movement is changing the way Mitt Romney talks about taxes, it's having quite an effect.