Did you hear that Barack Obama said something about wealth redistribution once? No, not that time. A different time, 14 years ago. Mitt Romney went on Fox News yesterday to talk about it, and now a slew of media outlets are quoting Romney contrasting himself with 1998-version Obama, saying he strongly disagrees with the very concept of wealth redistribution: "We believe in free people and free enterprise, not redistribution. The right course for America is to create growth, create wealth, not to redistribute wealth."
Romney's interviewer, Neil Cavuto, did nothing to challenge Romney on this, but that's really not surprising given that he's less a "journalist" and more a cheerleader for plutocracy. But a number of media outlets simply quoted Romney trashing "redistribution" without noting that Romney has boasted that his tax plan will "keep the current progressivity of the code." That is no different from saying: "My tax plan continues the current policy of wealth redistribution."
Here's Romney himself describing his own tax scheme to NBC's David Gregory on Meet the Press last week:
ROMNEY: Well, I can tell you that people at the high end, high income taxpayers, are going to have fewer deductions and exemptions. Those-- those numbers are going to come down. Otherwise, they'd get a tax break. And I want to make sure people understand, despite what the Democrats said at their convention. I am not reducing taxes on high income taxpayers. I'm bringing down the rate of taxation, but also bringing down deductions and exemptions at the high end so the revenues stay the same, the taxes people pay stay the same. Middle income people are going to get a break. But at the high end, the tax coming in stays the same.
We're going to take Romney's words at face value here, even though analysts across the board say the numbers in his plan don't add up. Romney wants to eliminate tax deductions and loopholes that "high income taxpayers" currently enjoy. That way, their tax burden stays the same, and Romney can afford to reduce the tax burden on "middle income people." That is wealth redistribution, plain and simple.
Indeed, Romney said as much himself in the same interview, claiming that his plan maintains the "progressivity" of the tax code:
ROMNEY: Well, because first of all I've got Princeton, Harvard, Wall Street Journal and AEI all saying actually that we can bring down the rates. And if we limit or eliminate some of the loopholes and deductions at the high end, we keep the current progressivity of the code and we get the same revenue coming into the government. And one marvelous thing we get is more growth of the economy. And my-- my-- my tax policy is designed to find a way to encourage more-- more hiring in this-- in this country. I'm-- I'm very concerned that we have 23 million people that are out of work or stopped looking for work or under-employed. And so everything I want to do with regards to taxation follows simple principles, which is bring our rates down to encourage growth, keep revenue up by limiting deductions and exemptions and make sure we don't put any bigger burden on middle income people. In fact, I want to lower the burden on middle income people.
So when he Romney says something like "the right course for America is to create growth, create wealth, not to redistribute wealth," someone should ask the Republican nominee if his own policies risk throwing the country off "the right course."