I’ve said this before, but Mitt Romney’s new formulation of his tax plan — one he used at the debate, and which he repeated to Wolf Blitzer yesterday — makes it absolutely clear that he’s lying about something. You don’t need complicated Tax Policy Center analysis, or for that matter anything beyond basic logic, to see why his pledge of revenue neutrality doesn’t jibe with what he’s saying. Here’s his quote to Blitzer:

“Well, I’ve made it pretty clear that my principles are, number one, simplify the code; number two, create incentives for small businesses and large businesses to grow; number three, don’t reduce the burden on high income taxpayers; and number four, remove the burden somewhat from middle income people.”

Now, in real life, we know that Romney’s actual specific pledges would yield a big tax cut for the rich. But even if you accept this version of Romney’s plan — even if you accept that Romney would cut the wealthy’s tax rates, and then offset that by taking away loopholes and deductions the rich enjoy — the overall math of his plan simply can’t work.

For some people, Romney says he’ll keep taxes the same. For everyone else, he’ll lower them.

I’ll repeat that just to make sure everyone gets it. Some have the same taxes; some have less. I’ll even put Romney’s pledge in equation form, for those mathematically inclined:

0 + (-X) = 0, where X > 0

That simply can’t work. Romney can’t do what he says and yet keep revenues the same. At least, not unless he’s using one of those spells that Hermione bothered learning while everyone else was hanging out on the Quidditch pitch. 

There’s just no excuse for reporters to ignore this glaring, central impossibility. Hey, reporters! Next time you interview Mitt Romney and he repeats this formula about lower taxes for some and the same taxes for everyone else, ask him how that goes with his pledge that he won’t increase the deficit with his tax plan.

And while you’re at it, push him on the real key question: if it turned out that his fantasy math falls short and the experts are correct, what would he give up: the big cut in rates? Tax levels for the middle class? Or revenue neutrality? It has to be one of them. Because not even Dumbledore could make Romney’s basic “principles” work.