Who’s raising taxes? New Romney ad relies on conservative think tank

October 4, 2012

A new ad out of Mitt Romney’s campaign claiming that President Obama will raise taxes on the middle class by $4,000 solely relies on an article from the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

The ad, released today, piggybacks off a point in last night’s presidential debate of dueling studies from the Tax Policy Center and the American Enterprise Institute. 

Among the studies referred to in last night’s debate is one from the Tax Policy Center (a joint project from the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute), which concluded that Romney’s tax plan “would provide large tax cuts to high-income households and increase the tax burdens on middle- and/or lower- income taxpayers.” 

Today, the Romney ad points to an analysis — not a study — by AEI research fellow Alex Brill in the think tank’s online magazine, The American, in which Brill outlines all the ways in which he sees the Tax Policy Center analysis to be wrong, including taking issue with the revenue baseline.

The “studies” exchange in last night’s debate:

OBAMA: When you add up all the loopholes and deductions that upper-income individuals can — are currently taking advantage of, you take those all away, you don’t come close to paying for $5 trillion in tax cuts and $2 trillion in additional military spending.

OBAMA: And that’s why independent studies looking at this said the only way to meet Governor Romney’s pledge of not reducing the deficit or, or, or not adding to the deficit is by burdening middle-class families. The average middle-class family with children would pay about $2,000 more.

Now, that’s not my analysis. That’s the analysis of economists who have looked at this. And — and that kind of top — top-down economics, where folks at the top are doing well, so the average person making $3 million is getting a $250,000 tax break, while middle-class families are burdened further, that’s not what I believe is a recipe for economic growth.

[...]

ROMNEY: Well, but — but virtually — virtually everything he just said about my tax plan is inaccurate.

LEHRER: All right.

ROMNEY: So if the tax plan he described were a tax plan I was asked to support, I’d say absolutely not. I’m not looking for a $5 trillion tax cut. What I’ve said is I won’t put in place a tax cut that adds to the deficit. That’s part one. So 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.

Number two, I will not reduce the share paid by high-income individuals. I know that you and your running mate keep saying that and I know it’s a popular thing to say with a lot of people, but it’s just not the case. Look, I’ve got five boys. I’m used to people saying something that’s not always true, but just keep on repeating it and ultimately hoping I’ll believe it. But that, that is not the case. All right? I will not reduce the taxes paid by high-income Americans.

And number three, I will not under any circumstances raise taxes on middle-income families. I will lower taxes on middle-income families. Now, you cite a study. There are six other studies that looked at the study you describe and say it’s completely wrong. I saw a study that came out today that said you’re going to raise taxes by $3,000 to $4,000 on middle-income families.

There are all these studies out there. But let’s get at the bottom line. That is, I want to bring down rates. I want to bring the rates down, at the same time lower deductions and exemptions and credits and so forth, so we keep getting the revenue we need. And you’d think, well, then why lower the rates?

It’s also worth pointing out that the ad also says AEI is a nonpartisan, independent organization. By law, this is true. Nonprofit status requires that organizations are nonpartisan. However, ideologically, one would be hard-pressed to find somebody at AEI who didn’t identify themselves as conservative.

But how many in the public will know that?

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Allen McDuffee · October 4, 2012