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First Q on call: Tax Policy Center analysis says tax plan would increase deficit... @EricFehrn calls it a "joke"
@DomenicoNBC via TweetDeck
New Obama ad: 'Romney's tax plan?
He pays less. You pay more.'
Here's a good rule of thumb: if a political campaign's main response to its critics is to call them jokes and attack their character without actually refuting the substance of the criticism ... then you know the political campaign is in a bad spot.

That's exactly the situation the Romney campaign finds itself in in the wake of yesterday's Tax Policy Center study which showed that Romney's tax plan would force middle-class taxpayers to foot the bill for Romney's proposed tax breaks for the wealthy. Instead of critiquing the study on the merits, the campaign is calling it a "joke" and claiming that it's authors are stooges for the Obama campaign, never mind the fact that one of the study's authors worked for the first President Bush or the fact the head of the Tax Policy Center worked for the second President Bush. And certainly, please don't remind the Romney campaign that they were approvingly citing the Tax Policy Center as a non-partisan institute (which it is) as recently as November.

The reason Romneyland is flip-flopping on the Tax Policy Center is that they don't have anything better to say, and Ezra Klein has a solid post up explaining why that's the case. The basic problem is that Romney claims he can pay for the tax cuts through a combination of "dynamic scoring" (the idea that budget projects should assume that tax cuts pay for themselves) and eliminating tax deductions, but his tax cuts are so heavily tilted towards the wealthy that even if you eliminated all tax breaks for the wealthy and used the most creative dynamic scoring imaginable, you still wouldn't be able to pay for the tax cuts without forcing the middle-class to pay more—the only question is when the bill would come due. If Romney kept his promise to make the cuts deficit neutral, taxes would go up immediately on the middle-class. If not, the cost of paying for the tax cuts would get kicked down the road. Either way, the middle-class would end up paying.

Given the nature of their plan, it's no surprise that Romneyland is having such trouble pushing back against the study. If they were really confident that the study was wrong, they'd be talking about its substance instead of hurling insults and going after the character of its authors. If they thought they could refute the analysis, they'd be putting forward their own analysis of how their numbers add up. But they're not doing that. They're being as secretive about their internal analysis of the plan as they have been about Romney's own tax returns.

As BuzzFeed's Zeke Miller notes, on February 22 of this year, Romney promised to release a dynamic scoring for his plan to show how his numbers add up—but nearly six months later, they still haven't done so.

The bottom-line: The Tax Policy Center has put its analysis forward.  It's a good analysis. If Romneyland thought they could prove that it is wrong, they would do so, and they'd do it with real numbers. But that's not what they're doing. And the fact that they are falling back on things like calling it a "joke" and attacking the people who wrote the study instead of refuting its substance is a tacit admission that the study is right.

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