Arguably the most important moment of the Republican presidential nominating process wasn't a gaffe or an attack -- it was a question that didn't even require anyone to say anything at all.
At a debate for the eight GOP candidates in mid-August, Fox News' Bret Baier asked the Republican field whether they could accept a debt-reduction deal in which they received $10 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases. All eight candidates said such a compromise simply wouldn't be good enough.
For those who can't watch clips online, CBS's Bob Schieffer asked about this on "Face the Nation" yesterday, and Romney was as obstinate as he was last summer, even when talking about a 10-to-1 compromise in his favor.
"I do feel that way. Government is big and getting larger.... The only solution to taming an out-of-control spending government is to cut spending and my policies reduce the rate of spending."
It's important to appreciate just how ridiculous this is.
Let's note for context that in March 2011 — just last year — Republicans on the Joint Economic Committee released a report on deficit reduction. In it, House GOP officials outlined their ideal cuts-to-revenue ratio, and concluded that "successful" attempts to cut the deficit meet a specific goal: "85% spending cuts and 15% revenue increases." Roughly speaking, that's about a 5-to-1 ratio in Republicans' favor — and this is what GOP officials characterized as their ideal just a year ago.
Romney, however, is far to the right of where House Republicans were in 2011 -- we've gone from a Republican standard demanding a 5-to-1 deal in their favor to rejecting a 10-to-1 deal in their favor.
The larger message to the electorate was hard to miss: Romney has no intention of compromising.
As a policy matter, if a 10-to-1 cuts-to-revenue ratio is considered far too liberal for the Republican Party in the 21st century, we can say with certainty the GOP is obviously not serious about debt reduction. We can also say with certainty that the Republicans' presidential nominee doesn't have the foggiest idea how to shape a coherent approach to fiscal sanity.