Susan thinks Romney is hiding a secret-but-coherent tax plan that involves a value-added tax. Her theory is that Romney can make all the budget numbers add up with the VAT, but can’t push for a VAT right now because of … something. What that something is, I’m not sure.
The instinct, of course, is to say he’s hiding the VAT because he knows he’s going to face significant opposition from the right. And it’s true that conservatives who subscribe to the “starving-the-beast” theory of budget management fear that a VAT tax will, in the words of The Economist, “award the beast a lifetime pass to the Golden Corral.” (On an unrelated note, Golden Corral has delicious yeast rolls.)
But conservatives have become more accepting towards the idea of VAT lately. The Republican Party, for instance, seemed to allow for just such a tax in its most recent platform. Obviously, that doesn’t mean that the people like the folks at Cato are going to start embracing the VAT, but they don’t ever really seem open to any type of revenue enhancement, anyway.
So if Republicans don’t really hate the VAT as much as they used to, why is Romney hiding it?
Well, as I told Susan last night: I suspect he isn’t. I don’t think there’s a secret VAT. To me, this is likely just political pragmatism on the part of Romney; he doesn’t want to risk alienating part of the electorate by threatening to cut their favorite deduction. It’s the same reason why politicians promise to balance the budget without identifying particular programs to cut: a balanced budget in the abstract is awesome, but nobody wants to cut any specific program. Nobody. So Romney doesn’t offer specifics so as to avoid pissing anyone off, and he wraps it in platitudes about “waiting to work with the Democrats” and such.
Sometimes politics is just politics. No deep thinking necessary.
“I know it is wet
And the sun is not sunny.
But we can have lots of good fun that is funny!”
“I know some good games we could play,” Said the VAT.
“I know some new tricks,” Said the VAT in the Hat.
“A lot of good tricks. I will show them to you. Your mother
Will not mind at all if I do.”