Political Animal


October 16, 2012 2:44 PM Plan-Meets-Need

By Ed Kilgore

Don’t know how many of you debated in high school or college (I did, though not all that well), but two things that I recall from the mists of time which might be relevant to a presidential debate are (1) the importance for affirmative teams of establishing that their “plan” meets the “need” established in their primary case for change, and (2) authorities for various assertions of fact were accepted rather liberally, and refuted more by quantity than by quality.

What with the post-factual trends of contemporary politics, presidential debates are perhaps beginning to resemble their scholastic versions insofar as the key thing is to throw some authority out there whether it is reliable or not. Thus, when Barack Obama cites today’s Washington Post fact-checking piece thoroughly trashing Mitt Romney regular claim that his “five-point-plan” will create 12 million jobs over four years, Mitt will come back with some shabby counter-authority—maybe a conservative op-ed or blog post, maybe an internal campaign document—and muddy the waters enough to blunt the attack.

But Romney’s also got a plan-meets-need problem with this and other aspects of his agenda. One prop of the Romney “plan’s” job claims is actually based on current energy policies. So Obama can simply say “the same numbers apply to my own policies, according to your own sources.” Similarly he can pledge to get tough with China, another supposed job-creator. And there is zero question Obama will use Romney’s own words to argue that his tax plan—the biggest bogus job-creator of them all—hasn’t even been drafted, since Romney insists the details will be worked out in negotiations with Congress. On top of everything else, Obama has very credible authority (Moody’s Analytics) for saying that current policies—i.e., his own—would create the self-same 12 million jobs without the various risks associated with a Romney presidency.

True, Obama’s case will be stronger if he offers a “counter-plan”—an intelligible second-term agenda—but he does not need to get down in the numbers weeds with Mendacious Mitt to throw cold water on Romney’s supposed jobs plan, or suggest that Romney’s real agenda is focused elsewhere.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Ron Byers on October 16, 2012 2:58 PM:

    I have wondered why Obama didn't use the Moody's 12 million jobs estimate if we do nothing when Romney brought this up in the first debate.

    It isn't like it is new news.

  • Bo on October 16, 2012 3:29 PM:

    The MittWit released the specific details of his tax plan today --> http://www.romneytaxplan.com/

  • c u n d gulag on October 16, 2012 3:39 PM:

    Obama needs to appeal to them as much as possible.

    On other subjects he needs to be calm and rational, and counter Mitt's BS better.

    He also needs to make a Biden-like appeal to voters. Turn to the camera's, and ask people for another 4 years to continue the improvements he and the Democrats started.
    He should also mention not changing horses in mid-stream.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on October 16, 2012 3:40 PM:

    @ Bo:

    Real cute... :) LOL

    I felt like a kitty chasing a laser light

  • Lance on October 16, 2012 3:42 PM:

    Two things to remember.

    Romney only promises the 'Wealthy' will continue to pay their 'share of revenues' after his marginal tax rate reductions of 35 to 28, 25 to 20 and 15 to 12 percent.

    He doesn't promise they will continue to pay the same amount of revenue.

    Second, he's assuming a higher rate of growth of the economy to make up the lost revenue. But you HAVE TO GET HIM TO SAY THAT.

    Remember the Laffer curve HAS to fall towards zero revenue obtained when tax rates fall towards zero tax rates. Since we are already hard on the curve down to zero with a 35% top marginal tax rate, dropping the rate to 28% will NOT recover the lost revenue.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on October 16, 2012 3:43 PM:

    piggy backing on cund:

    And Obama needs to encourage voters to vote the obstructing do-nothing congress critters out, so we can make some real progress.