Politifact, Obama, and Tax Plans

Mitt Romney has repeatedly said that several studies prove his tax plan is possible without tax increases on the middle class. President Obama claims that even these “studies” show that middle-class tax increases would be required to make the plan work. The studies (or analyses) in question are those by Harvey Rosen and Martin Feldstein. Politifact rated the president’s claim “mostly false.” This is just one more egregious rating from Politifact.

The president has said that making the plan work would require either raising taxes on the middle class or eliminating popular deductions such as the home mortgage deduction. In supporting their “mostly false” rating, Politifact said, “Rosen found that when a wide array of tax breaks are eliminated — from home mortgages to charitable giving to health insurance benefits — and projected economic growth rates are factored in that the increased revenues can balance out the money lost through tax rate cuts for high-income taxpayers.” These are, of course, exactly the middle-class deductions the president was referring to. Eliminating these deductions will, of course, increase the taxes middle-class families pay.

As for the Feldstein claim, Politifact quotes Feldstein as saying he did not separate data on the income earners to which President Obama referred, so it is impossible to say whether Obama’s statement is true or false. But please note, it is possible to say that Romney’s claim that the study proves his plan is possible without increasing taxes on the middle class is possible to evaluate. It is false. Feldstein says his claim was that Romney’s plan was possible without raising taxes on families earning less than $100,000/year. As Josh Barro pointed out, “Feldstein allows for tax increases on people making more than $100,000. But on Sept. 14, Romney told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he would hold people making less than $200,000 or $250,000 harmless from tax increases.” Feldstein certainly doesn’t claim that Romney’s plan is viable without eliminating the deductions President Obama says will need to be eliminated, and he does not claim it would not require tax increases on those making $100,000 to $250,000, which is Romney’s definition of middle class.