True confessions – a couple of months ago around the peak of Cainmentum but before the current Newt Gingrich surge, I set about to write a post making the point that in essence Rick Perry and Mitt Romney had tax policy ideas that were every bit as crazy and regressive as the 9-9-9 Plan. I wound up never writing the post because … it’s not true. Ezra Klein waited for the Gingrich Surge and then wound up executing the same basic idea. As he shows in the chart above, Serious Thinker Newt Gingrich is putting something extremely similar to the Roundly Dismissed As Absurd Herman Cain 9-9-9 Plan on the table. You may notice, however, that there’s no Romney on the Klein chart. And that’s because Romney has quietly managed to skate through this whole campaign while hewing to a much more moderate line on taxes than his rivals.
Now moderation is a relative concept. Romney wants to extend all the current Bush tax cuts, which on its own terms implies major long-term cutbacks to federal retirement programs, and would add to that a pretty expensive proposal to eliminate capital gains taxes for everyone earning less than $200,000. But there’s tons of daylight between Romney and Perry/Gingrich on this front. Under the circumstances it’s strange that the candidates have spent much more time engaged in hair-splitting disagreements about immigration than they have on taxes.