Mitt Romney has had a lot of trouble recently defending his proposal to reduce income tax rates, increase defense spending, close tax loopholes — and keep the whole thing revenue it neutral while working to reduce the deficit and eventually balance the budget. It's possible to do any of those things, but it's extremely difficult, at best, to do all of them together.
But Obama's big debt reduction plan, which he claims would reduce national debt by $4 trillion, is also highly problematic. It's packed with gimmicks, and what debt reduction it might achieve would mostly come from tax hikes. And pressed to defend the plan, Obama's campaign has serious trouble.
The Washington Examiner's Philip Klein went back and forth with Obama campaign spokesperson Jen Psaki in the debate spin room last night to highly amusing results:
In the spin room following the debate, I noted to Psaki that Obama's math has its own problems. He preserves roughly 80 percent of the Bush tax cuts in terms of revenue and the taxes he raises won't be enough to balance the budget or save Medicare or Social Security from cuts.
"President Obama is the only one who has a $4 trillion balanced plan, so part of that is $1 trillion in ending the Bush tax cuts," Psaki said.
In response, I noted the the supposed $4 trillion deficit plan included $1.1 trillion in war savings and $1.2 trillion from the debt ceiling compromise that had already been signed into law.
"I think the important piece is that Mitt Romney has a $5 trillion plan," Psaki began to reply.
I pressed her on Obama's own plan, that keeps 80 percent of the Bush tax cuts without tackling entitlements.
She said, "I think we're talking about a couple different things. His plan is a $4 trillion plan. Part of it is ending the Bush tax cuts, part of it is making tough cuts to programs like Medicare and Medicaid. He's happy to make tough cuts and he also wants to invest in education and other programs."
I responded that the claimed mandatory savings were mostly offset by nearly $500 billion in new spending on his economic proposals.
"Yep," she said. She told me, "I'm happy to send you a copy of the president's plan outlined with all of the specifics of that."
The conversation keeps going. But it doesn't get any better for the Obama administration. At this point, presidential campaigns should, for their own good, probably stop trying to debate policy with Klein, who last year similarly boxed in Mitt Romney on the details of his dubious ObamaCare waiver plan.