Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter during an interview last night with CNN's Piers Morgan decided she would give the "Romney's proposing a $5 trillion tax cut" claim another go -- despite having earlier admitted Romney's plan "won't be near $5 trillion."
But perhaps that's not the story. Perhaps the story here is Cutter's obvious discomfort with this talking point. Indeed, between the apparent blushing and repeatedly yelling "He's wrong!", President Obama's deputy campaign manager seemed anything but confident.
"You said [the $5 trillion tax cut claim] was wrong," Morgan said after playing a clip of Mitt Romney addressing this specific talking point.
"That's right. Right," Cutter responded. "Piers, I’m really glad you brought that up. So, there is this thing called math and here are Mitt Romney’s tax cuts."
While saying this, Cutter held up a piece of paper with some numbers scribbled on it.
"And if you add up the lowering the tax rate by 20 percent, eliminating the alternative minimum tax, repealing the high income payroll, repealing the estate tax, and lowering taxes for corporations, that totals $5 trillion dollars," she argued.
"So that’s Mitt Romney’s tax cut," she continued, "It costs $5 trillion dollars. Now, is he going to close loopholes and deductions (that he won’t name) for those at the top? Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. There’s still not one economist in this country that can point to, 'yes, he can close loopholes and deductions for those at the very top and that will add up to $5 trillion dollars,' because it doesn’t."
However, as noted by analysts both left and right of center, the problem with Cutter's entire argument is that it's based on a faulty assumption. There simply isn't a proposed $5 trillion tax cut. If she really wanted to criticize the Romney plan, she could accuse it of being too vague.
"Did you say that it was 'wrong'? Is he right when he says that?" Morgan asked.
"No. What I said, Piers, was the total of his tax cuts cost $5 trillion dollars," she responded.
Again, this isn’t entirely accurate. Here is what Cutter said in an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett on October 4:
Erin Burnett: So you're saying if you lower them by 20% you get a $5 trillion tab, right?
Stephanie Cutter: It's a $5 trillion tab.
Burnett: But then when you close deductions it's not going to be anywhere near $5 trillion, that's our analysis.
Cutter: Well, okay, stipulated. It won't be near $5 trillion but it's also not going to be the sum of $5 trillion in the loopholes that he's going to close. So it is going to cost someone and it's going to cost the middle class.
As Burnett notes, the Romney plan calls for closing loopholes and deductions along with economic growth.
"I understand that, but this is quite important," Morgan interjected as Cutter argued that the only way Romney could lower the costs would be to close deductions on middle class families.
"He’s wrong!" she yelled.
"No, but it’s quite important -- "
"Okay, well, let’s discuss how he’s wrong," Morgan suggested.
This is the point where Cutter seemingly begins to blush -- a lot. Again, as mentioned in the above, she doesn't look at all comfortable in her attempt to trot out the $5 trillion tax cut claim. But maybe that's just us:
Bottom Line: The claim that Romney is calling for a $5 trillion tax cut "is wrong" and has been debunked by both the left and the right. It's simply incorrect. So we're not entirely sure why the Obama campaign is digging in its heels here. Then again, this is the same campaign that thought a Big Bird-themed attack ad was a good idea.
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