The Romney-Ryan ticket had a tough work week, followed by a tough weekend. Even reporters at FOX News seem increasingly irritated by the lack of detail, and by the succession of shifting rope-a-dope responses regarding whether and how Governor Romney would insure people with preexisting conditions, the mechanics of his Medicare premium support program, precisely which loopholes his tax plan would close to finance another round of huge supply-side tax cuts.
In the aftermath of President Clinton’s masterful speech, Democrats have successfully focused public and media attention on two chronic flaws of Republican tax and spending proposals: (1) The numbers don’t add up, and (2) many critical details are left out. Of course there’s a reason such details are left out. It’s fun to say in the abstract that we should close tax loopholes or control Medicare costs. It’s a lot less fun to get down to brass tacks in telling someone that you’re taking away his home mortgage deduction or reducing the value of his Medicare benefits.
Republicans have been getting away with fuzzy budget numbers for a long time. A month ago, it seemed likely that they would get away with such tactics until election day. Apparently they will not.
Here’s an idea: Presidential candidates shouldn’t propose trillion-dollar changes to our taxation and social insurance systems unless they are willing to provide the actual details required for independent scrutiny. It’s heartening that reporters are beginning to demand some greater honesty and professionalism in this process. They should keep this up, across the political spectrum.