The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

November 5, 2012

Charles Buchanan, guest columnist: Romney's plan filled with false promises

By Charles Buchanan
Special to The Globe

JOPLIN, Mo. — Your editorial page has frequently expressed the idea that we must demand honest answers from our leaders and not accept slogans as answers to complex problems.

Your endorsement of Gov. Mitt Romney for president ignores this principle. Your editorial board seems to buy the idea that a 20-percent tax cut is the solution to our budget deficit: “Romney’s plan is to roll back individual tax rates for all groups by 20 percent ... while at the same time reducing ... deductions. This gets us to the kind of overhaul that is needed.”

The 20-percent tax cut will reduce tax revenues by $5 trillion over 10 years.

In the last debate Gov. Romney told us not to worry, because he would reduce spending and close loopholes to make his tax cuts revenue neutral. So, Romney begins his assault on the deficit by digging the hole $5 trillion deeper. Through closing loopholes and deepening painful cuts in government spending, he fills that hole. Where does that leave us? The same place we are now — with an annual deficit for 2012 of $1.1 trillion.

And to remove any suggestion that this illusory plan to solve the deficit might involve any sacrifice you cite, with apparent approval, “Romney won’t raise any new taxes to reduce the deficit.”

This fantasy that we can solve our deficit woes with more tax cuts is dangerous and ignores important facts.

First, consider the size of the deficit: $1.1 trillion in 2012 — 42 cents of every dollar the U.S. government spends is borrowed. Nobody thinks this can be sustained. That’s why slogans masquerading as real plans are dangerous.

Second, according to the Tax Policy Center, in 2010 the share of our gross national product that went to individual federal income taxes was the lowest it has been since 1950, when Harry Truman was president. In 2011, the last reported year, federal income taxes were again near all-time lows. Unless we are willing to accept dramatic cuts in government services, we need more tax dollars.

What is the solution to our dangerous deficit? I wish I could point to a courageous national leader who had an honest plan. The truth is that we have elected politicians who have told us what we wanted to hear — that we can have it all — increased government benefits and more tax cuts.

The good news is that we are a great and wealthy nation, and our problems can be solved if we demand honesty from our leaders. The Bowles-Simpson Commission proposed a combination of tax increases and entitlement cuts that was widely praised by economists. But it required shared sacrifices and was largely ignored by our political leaders.

As an opinion leader in our community, I believe The Joplin Globe has let us down. Whether you endorse Romney or President Obama is not the point. Take a stand — that is what newspapers do. Use your paper to enlighten, educate, explain and call out politicians of both parties who do not tell the truth.

You let your readers down by encouraging the belief that slogans and false promises can solve serious and complex problems.

Charles Buchanan is a Joplin attorney.