The WashPo ran an article last week entitled “Romney and Perry headed for tax war” laying out everything that I have been writing about Mitt Romney for over four years now as pertains to his rabid opposition to the flat tax and his use of liberal class warfare rhetoric to attack it. Romney spent over $50,000 running vitriolic newspaper ads attacking Steve Forbes and the flat tax in 1996 as a “tax cut for fat cats” that would benefit the “Kennedys, Rockefellers and Forbes,” signing the ads “Mitt Romney, A Concerned Citizen.”
Now the shoe is on the other foot and Romney is the presidential candidate and Forbes is the “concerned citizen.” With Rick Perry unveiling his flat tax proposal tomorrow, he has earned Forbes endorsement and you can be sure that Forbes is itching to dish it right back at Romney. It started yesterday with an appearance on Fox News and an op-ed in the NY Post.
Meanwhile, Romney is tied up in knots trying to appeal to fiscal conservatives while dissing the flat tax as the Post notes:
Romney has frequently praised the flat tax — in theory. But the specific plans offered by Republicans, he has argued, are unfairly weighted towards the wealthy.
While Romney has moved to the ideological right on most issues, his stance on this one is pretty consistent. But he’s also trying to have it both ways by embracing theoretical idea of a flat tax, which is popular among conservatives, while arguing against a specific plan that, it just so happens, is being pushed by his main rival for the GOP presidential nomination.
That’s like saying in theory, Mitt Romney would be a good candidate, but his specific candidacy would be a disaster.
This highlights the fundamental problem with Romney as a candidate — he wants to have everything both ways, but he has fallen into a trap of his own making with his consistent, whiney critiques of the flat tax as “unfair.” I’d bet that Romney never dreamed after the lackluster ’08 primary campaign that was devoid of a real debate over conservative, supply-side fiscal policy that fundamental tax reform would become a defining issue just a few months before the primaries begin. And I’m certain that he never thought that the man he made into a nemesis 16 years earlier would become a player.