Mitt Romney's Puerto Rico Fever
Why Mitt Romney is courting Latino votes that don't count.
Updated Monday, Sept. 24, 2007, at 11:24 AM
Five-Minute Magic: Sen. Barack Obama's new tax plan promises to provide $80 to $85 billion in tax cuts for the middle class. Also, to simplify tax filings so that "millions of Americans can do their taxes in less than 5 minutes." For anyone who spends the average 15 hours preparing their taxes every April, the prospect of five-minute taxes makes disarming North Korea seem like a low priority. But is it realistic?
Doubtful. The idea, Obama said in his speech today, is to automate part of the filing process. "The government already collects wage and bank account information," he said, "so there's no reason the IRS can't send Americans prefilled tax forms to verify." But that assumes Congress would be willing to put in the money to upgrade the IRS' sagging technology. Also, the five-minute promise only applies to people who take the standard deduction. If you itemize your deductions, you're still screwed.
Sure, young single people with one modest job and no dependents can fill out a basic 1040 form and be done with it. But for them, the process is already simple. (Is there a better argument for the monastic life?)
Obama also claims his plan would "save Americans more than $2 billion in tax preparer fees." This is great news. So, are the tax preparers worried? Cindy Hockenberry at the National Association of Tax Professionals doubts Obama's proposal would do much damage to the profession. When the IRS introduced its online Free File program, she said, tax preparers cowered, but "it didn't make a dent." It turns out that most people who file their taxes online aren't the kind of people who hire tax preparers. Same would go for Obama's five-minute tax plan, in all likelihood.
Posted by Christopher Beam, Sept. 18, 5:50 p.m. ET (link)
"Nightmare" Scenario: The Giuliani camp just released a new radio ad responding to yesterday's MoveOn.org "Betrayal of Trust" ad, which slams the former mayor for quitting the Iraq Study Group to give paid speeches. (Listen to it below.) "Why is MoveOn attacking Rudy Giuliani?" the Giuliani comeback asks. "Because he's their worst nightmare. They know Rudy is a Republican who can beat the Democrats."
Meaning physically, right?
Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.
John Dickerson is Slate's chief political correspondent and author of On Her Trail. He can be reached at email@example.com. Read his series on the presidency and his series on risk. Follow him on Twitter.
Photographs of: Mitt Romey by Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty Images; Rudy Giuliani by Joe Raedle/Getty Images; Rudy and Judith Giuliani by Edmond Terakopian/AFP/Getty Images. Illustration by Alex Eben Meyer. Photograph of young crowd on Slate's home page by Mike Powell.