Watch This Closely

February 22, 2012 8:41 am

We were just debating in the TPM virtual newsroom whether Mitt’s comments a short time ago about making “sure the top 1% keeps paying, paying the current share they’re paying or more” is a shift in his rhetoric, a shift in his policy, or both.

We should have a clearer picture shortly because Mitt’s campaign is unveiling in bits and pieces to reporters throughout the day the elements of Mitt’s new and improved tax plan, an elaboration on the plan he released in September.

The feature of that plan Mitt was touting in today’s rally in Arizona is that while it lowers marginal tax rates on the 1%, it will also deny them deductions they currently enjoy. Whether that results in a net increase or decrease in the tax burden for the 1% is one of the key questions we’ll be looking to answer because, in the end, that’s really all that counts.*But as Josh pointed out earlier, when Mitt promises to make sure the 1% pay their share “or more,” that starts to sound a lot like he’s hewing closer to the prevailing political wind. Contrast it, for example, with Mitt himself back in January calling Obama out for “encouraging the idea of dividing America based on 99 percent versus one percent”:

*Late Update: There are actually two ways of measuring tax burden here: how much in actual taxes does the 1% pay, and what is the 1%’s share of the overall tax burden. As a noted tax expert tells Greg Sargent, “If you reduce the whole thing by 20 percent then they can go down by 20 percent and still pay the same share.”

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