10/05/2012 03:04 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Full Tilt Etch-a-Sketch Throwdown Boogie

Whoever said Mitt wasn't hip? He is boogieing away like a mad man on the dance floor, dancing as fast as he can away from his former self. In honor of Romney's chief strategist's comments as Romney was winning the primary about shaking the etch-a-sketch and coming up with a whole new Mitt, we'll just call this the Full Tilt Etch-a-Sketch Throwdown Boogie. It's a dance craze that will be very popular in red states through the election day, but if Romney wins, he'll shut the music off the day after and go back to being the Mitt-for-the-1% we've gotten to know.

The big players in traditional media are letting him get away with it for the most part, because they want this race to be close and exciting. But everyone knows that his numbers don't even come close to adding up. His website makes it clear that in spite of his repeated and vehement denials, his entire tax policy is skewed toward the wealthy. Since the big boys in media won't do it, I guess folks like me and the good people at Think Progress will have to actually show what Mitt's own website says about taxes:


Notice that every bullet but one disproportionately benefits high income taxpayers. If you go down this list, it is a wish list of policies that all lower taxes, in most cases dramatically, for millionaires: permanent across the board 20 percent tax cut; maintain current tax rates in interest, dividends, capital gains; eliminate the death tax; repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax; cut the corporate tax rate to 25 percent; "strengthen" and make permanent the R&D credit; switch to a territorial tax system; repeal the corporate minimum tax rate. Mitt himself bragged about this during the Republican primaries: "We're going to cut taxes on everyone across the country by 20 percent, including the top 1 percent."

Now, of course, Mitt is saying the opposite, that the wealthy would pay the same amount they are currently paying because, even though he is doing all those great things described very specifically in the bullets, he will close a bunch of unknown, unspecified loopholes to make things all even-steven. The fact is that every serious analysis of the budget shows there aren't anywhere near -- nowhere even in the same solar system -- enough loopholes that rich people take advantage of to make up the difference. Remember, one of the very specific bullets is that there will be no change in the rates on interest, dividends or capital gains. The problem is that those three items are by far the biggest source of loopholes that wealthy people take advantage of -- the ones Romney avoided so many taxes because of during and since the Bain Capital years.

Everyone in politics, everyone who knows an iota of policy or even knows how to add -- everyone, I guarantee you --knows this is all fantasy, all the time. Even Mitt knows it, because this is how he defends it: "No economist can say Mitt Romney's tax plan adds five trillion if I say I will not add to the deficit with my tax plan." He could have added "and I'll hold my breath until you economists stop saying so," but I guess he wanted to try and pass for older than 8 years old.

But now that it is October, and his whole "let's unleash the job creators, besides 47 percent of the country don't pay taxes and are too dependent on government," argument has dramatically failed, he has morphed from Mr. 1% to become Mr. populist progressive. All of a sudden he is saying things that he knows, and everyone else knows, don't add up, and he's just hoping he can skate by.

Speaking of the 47 percent, he is now dancing away from that, too. Remember how his first reaction after the video came out was to say his words were inelegant, but he was standing behind the basic ideas in the video. That didn't work, and it's October, so guess what: he is no longer standing behind them, he is dancing away from them. Look at this video from Thursday:

Here's the thing I can be very confident in assuring you about, though, after 30-plus years of working closely with politicians: If they are saying one thing in public, and another thing in private to their biggest donors, the thing they said in private to their biggest donors is what they believe and, more importantly, what they will act on. You can bank on that fact: trust their private thoughts, not the public talking points; trust what they say to the big donors, who can and will hold them accountable, not what they say in public after looking at their polling numbers.

And it's not just one video, folks. It's their platform I was just discussing. It's pretty much every statement Romney made during the Republican primary process when he needed to suck up to the Tea Party types. It's in the details of the budget Paul Ryan wrote and introduced, and Romney enthusiastically endorsed. It's the "makers and takers" video from Ryan. It's the latest old video that just came out featuring Ryan, which is a doozy:

He wants to turn our entire country into a tax shelter? He wants America to become the Cayman Islands, where drug kingpins and third world dictators (and Mitt Romney) hide their ill-gotten gain? Yes. This is who Romney and Ryan are. This is what they really believe. Despite what you are hearing from Romney a month out from the election, he has not suddenly turned into FDR. Read his platform. Listen to what he says in private with his closest (and richest) friends. Listen to Paul Ryan when he tells us what his lifelong philosophy is. This is who they really are, and no amount of fantasyland math and fancy dancing away from their record is going to change all that.