Interesting piece in the WaPo. Matt Miller imagines Romney’s next Big Lie:
So here goes. Imagine we’re 15 minutes into the town hall and a 30-something woman named Sandy is given the microphone. “Governor Romney,” she says, “my husband and I earned $75,000 last year. We have trouble saving up for a down payment for a house. We have trouble putting away money for our kids’ college education. And we can’t even think about saving for retirement. It’s hard enough making ends meet as it is. I’ve learned in this campaign that we pay taxes at a higher rate on our income than you pay on the $20 million you earned last year. How can that be right or good for America?”
Romney steps toward her as he responds. “I’ve thought about this a lot, Sandy,” he begins. “I’ve met too many families struggling to make it, thanks to the awful recovery the president’s policies have doomed us to. And, as you know, I believe there’s a pro-growth argument for taxing savings and investment at lower rates, which is where virtually all of my income now comes from.
“But I also think there are questions of fundamental fairness involved. The more I’ve traveled the country, the more I’ve come to think that it’s important not only that the direction I propose be effective in restoring jobs and growth, but also that my policies be seen as fair by all Americans so we can move forward to renew this great nation together.
“So here’s what I’ll pledge. Once we’ve done all we can sensibly do to restrain federal spending – which we absolutely must do – and we still need resources to balance our budget and fund things like infrastructure and research to build for the future, then people in my fortunate position should absolutely be asked to contribute something more in taxes. And I’ll make the case to the country that this is needed. I know that’s different from what I’ve been saying, but on reflection I think it’s the right thing for the country.”
I don’t know that Romney would do this. But I do know that he will lie tonight. Over and over and over. Lie and distract.
Miller maps out a potential Obama response:
Back to the town hall. “It’s a little remarkable to hear you say this, Mitt,” Obama says. “I’ve been saying it for two years while your party’s called me a ‘socialist.’ If you’re agreeing with me now, I wonder what you’ll say tomorrow. Or the day after the election.”
Will this suffice? Here’s the point: Team Obama shouldn’t be planning to refight the first debate. It should be prepared for a Romney who’ll show up with new surprises. That means tying Romney to the extreme conservatives who’ve brought him this far, even if he’s tacking madly to the center at the end. Above all, it means laying out a bolder vision for a second term than the poll-tested small ball that passes for Obama’s agenda thus far – an agenda designed to help the president limp to victory, rather than address the country’s real needs.
That’s not fair. Not at all. Indeed, of the all the criticism of Obama, the most unfair, I think, is the notion that he doesn’t have a bold vision for the second term. Implementing ACA. Raising taxes on the wealthy to begin a process of addressing income inequality. Continued strong environmental regulation. This is already a robust agenda. He’s already mapped out a large number of difficult and contentious fights. The idea that boldness always requires new, radical policies is just bizarre.
But that said, Miller’s other point is interesting to contemplate and really highlights the challenge for tonight. We just have no idea what Romney will say. Will he come out with some sort of immigration amnesty proposal to help grab Hispanic votes? Will he come out in favor of pay equality? Will he soften his pro-life stance? Who knows?