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Romney's free pass on hooey about to expire


Date published: 10/9/2012

PROVIDENCE, R.I.--

It can't be by accident that Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs made the Sunday talk-show rounds using the word "masterful" to describe Mitt Romney's performance at the presidential debate. True, President Obama looked tired, while Romney was brimming with old ideas. But Romney's master-of-the-universe act was not universally admired. It will be turned on him.

Romney's trampling on moderator Jim Lehrer's gentle requests to observe the debate rules reminded many of the Bain Capital raptor who made a fortune off a strip-and-flip strategy that sent companies into oblivion after cheating workers of their pensions and even stiffing the guys delivering the coffee. Off his game last Thursday, Obama didn't make such connections. No doubt he will next time.

Obama also seemed unprepared for the new Romney tactic of flinging crumbs of compassion to the peasantry. After the cameras went off, the Romney staff took some of the crumbs back, particularly the ones seeming to support more health-coverage security for workers--but how many noticed?

In a related divide-and-conquer strategy, Romney made a point of reassuring Americans 55 and older that their generous Medicare-as-we-know-it benefits were safe. In the real world, they won't be. The idea that Americans born after 1957 (who will become more numerous as time goes on) will meekly pay taxes to support a benefit level far above what they will get is most unrealistic.

The centerpiece of the debate was Romney's plan for $5 trillion in tax cuts. The Republican held that they would not add to deficits because any lost revenues would be covered by closing various tax loopholes and deductions. When Obama noted that Romney had refused to name a single example, Romney brushed aside the impertinence. With all the self-assurance of George W. Bush, he insisted that the revenues would appear and that was that.

In a new ad, Romney says in his take-charge way, "There's no economist that can say Mitt Romney's tax plan adds $5 trillion if I say I will not add to the deficit with my tax plan."' As Igor would say, "Yes, mahster."


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