Last night, Joe Biden expressed significant skepticism about the idea of Mitt Romney’s tax reform — that it was possible to lower rates, eliminate deductions, and maintain revenue levels, in addition to the specific math involved. Ryan cited the ample historical precedent that such a plan was possible:
REP. RYAN: You can cut tax rates by 20 percent and still preserve these important preferences for middle-class taxpayers —
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Not mathematically possible.
REP. RYAN: It is mathematically possible. It’s been done before. It’s precisely what we’re proposing.
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: (Chuckles.) It has never been done before.
REP. RYAN: It’s been done a couple of times, actually.
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: It has never been done before.
REP. RYAN: Jack Kennedy lowered tax rates, increased growth. Ronald Reagan —
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Oh, now you’re Jack Kennedy.
REP. RYAN: Ronald Reagan — (laughter) — (chuckles) — Republicans and Democrats —
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: This is amazing.
Amazing, in fact, might be a better description of Biden’s duplicitousness on the question of tax reform. While obviously no one has enacted a plan exactly like Romney’s before, the general principles have been applied twice, with John F. Kennedy’s proposed tax reforms that were later implemented slightly differently, and Ronald Reagan’s 1986 tax reform, both of which cut marginal rates significantly and eliminated deductions for the wealthy, while gathering essentially the same revenue (technically the ’86 bill itself cost $8.9 billion in revenue over the first two years, but overall tax revenues increased substantially in its wake). But twice Biden claims that such tax reform “has never been done before.” But he should know better — he actually voted to do it, 28 years ago. On September 27, 1986, Biden voted (along with 32 other Democrats) to enact H.R. 3838, Ronald Reagan’s tax reform, which lowered rates, eliminated deductions, and barely affected the deficit.
In fact, that bill actually lowered the top marginal tax rate to 28 percent, the top rate Romney and Ryan have proposed. Biden’s assertion that something like what Romney and Ryan are proposing “has never been done before” is, well, laughable.