Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Dear Mr. Romney...

Dear Mr. Romney, 

You are a hell of a lot smarter and better-informed than I am, so I'm in no position to criticize every part of your editorial in USA TODAY that came out this morning. I do, however, want to make three basic observations, based on those areas you covered where I have (some little) expertise. 

Observation #1: It's true that, on the books, the U.S. corporate tax rate looks too damn high. 

However, when you take into account loopholes, write-offs, tax credits and exemptions that corporations can qualify for, the effective tax rate doesn't look nearly as scary. The estimates I saw in some brief research seem to peg it at between 25 and 28 percent. 

Also, in the paragraph immediately before the tax rate one, you say the difference between President Obama's actions and a future President Romney's "could not be starker". If that's the case, your first examples of that difference might not want to include a proposal that the White House has been working on at least since May

Observation #2: This has to do with the paragraph on energy. You say that you'll "utilize to the fullest extent our nation's nuclear know-how" and devote time to "rationalizing and streamlining regulation". I'm not very knowledgeable about the oil, gas and coal industries, but in the case of the nuclear industry, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has just experienced a major regulatory overhaul. Stirring the pot and unsettling everything there with another round of "rationalizing and streamlining" might actually be counterproductive. 
Also, "utiliz[ing] our nation's nuclear know-how" is all very well, but the 'nuclear renaissance' has been held up because of regulatory delays and the expense of constructing new plants, not any lack of enthusiasm on the President's part. He made $18 billion available in start-up loans for new plants, in the form of a Department of Energy fund. Doing more than that might not jibe with your spend-less philosophy. 

Observation #3: I'm not one to expect specifics for fixing everything in one small editorial, and I eagerly await your 59-point plan for fixing America. That said, a lot of the ideas in your column sound good, but are short on crucial details. I look forward to see you elucidating them more clearly on the campaign trail.


Andy Tisdel

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