President Barack Obama's campaign overreached last week, saying: "In fact, Harvard economist Martin Feldstein and Princeton economist Harvey Rosen both concede that paying for Romney’s tax cuts would require large tax increases on families making between $100,000 and $200,000."
It’s more accurate to say that Rosen’s analysis purports to say Romney’s plan does not require such tax increases, but relies on several unsupported assumptions. As for Feldstein, his analysis simply doesn’t address the question.
Feldstein confirmed as much to Politifact, saying, "I didn't calculate the average tax increase for those in the $100,000 to $200,000. So I cannot say that (the Obama campaign is) right or wrong about the $100,000 to $200,000 families.”
This is important. Romney is citing Feldstein as one of the economists who has done a “study” confirming that Romney’s tax plan can work. But as I wrote last week, Feldstein didn’t analyze the Romney plan. He analyzed a plan that allows tax increases on earners over $100,000; his study offers no support for the idea that Romney can implement a tax plan that avoids tax increases on earners making under $200,000.
Feldstein has repeatedly offered a defense of the idea that “middle class,” for the purpose of deciding who should be protected from tax increases, should only extend up to $100,000 earners. I agree with Feldstein on the policy merits of that question. But Romney does not.
Now that Feldstein has made clear that his analysis does not support the conclusion that Romney says it does, I hope the Romney campaign will stop citing it. But I doubt it will.
Read more breaking commentary from Josh Barro and other Bloomberg View columnists and editors at the Ticker.