Sophistry

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “sophistry” as “the use of clever but false arguments, especially with the intention of deceiving”.

Consider, for example, the statement on Mitt Romney’s official website that says he wants to “make permanent, across-the-board 20 percent cut in marginal (income tax) rates”.

So if you make a lot of money and the last dollar you earn is now taxed at a rate of 35%, your new, lower rate will be 28%. That will lower your taxes by quite a large amount, especially if you earn a million dollars or more.

If you don’t make so much money, and your last dollar is taxed at a rate of 25%, your new rate will be 20%. Your marginal rate will go down by 5%. Not bad, but the high earner’s rate will go down by 7%. That’s how percentages work.

It certainly sounds like Romney is advocating a big tax cut for the highest earners, bigger as both a percentage of income and as a dollar amount.

At the last debate, however, Governor Romney said: “The top 5 percent will continue to pay 60 percent, as they do today. I’m not looking to cut taxes for wealthy people. I am looking to cut taxes for middle-income people.”

Well, if he’s not looking to cut taxes for wealthy people, he’s made a grievous error.

But wait — the top 5% will continue to pay 60% of all income taxes! Doesn’t that mean that the high earners aren’t getting a tax cut at all?

Of course not. Since the total amount of taxes being paid will go down, the top 5% will still pay 60% of that smaller total. At the same time, they will receive a big tax cut on their “earned” income, much bigger in fact than low earners.

As Bill Clinton said today, someone running for President thinks we’re dumb. No surprise, it’s Mitt Romney, sophist.

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