So, okay. This is where we are, as a nation. On Monday, Barack Obama addressed a crowd in Stamford, Connecticut and described Mitt Romney's tax plan as "Robin Hood in reverse. It's Romney Hood." Yesterday, Romney told a Fox News reporter that Obama's terms are "Obamaloney." Everyone in America now has free rein to address both candidates as "Beavis."
Please, for the love of God, shut up, Beavis.
Obama's comments referred to the Tax Policy Center analysis of Romney's tax cut plan. Romney has called for slashing tax rates 20 percent, across the board, which he claims could be paid for by eliminating deductions. The key here is that Romney's proposal hinges on revenue neutrality. Using a complex mathematical formula symbolized by the variable ???, Romney says that getting rid of those deductions zeroes out the tax cut in a way that's fair for everyone. But he hasn't outlined what deductions he would eliminate, for which income groups, or, anything else.
Enter the Tax Policy Center—evidently the last Washington institution allergic to analogies like, "Candidate #1 is a lot like Transformers, while Candidate #2 is a lot like Go-Bots"—who tried to estimate what ??? means (emphasis mine):
To estimate how average household tax burdens among different income groups would change as a result of this shift, we assume that the available tax expenditures are curtailed "from the top down" in order to make the tax plan as progressive as possible…. Even after eliminating all available tax expenditures for households earning more than $200,000, this group still faces a net tax break. Americans making over $1 million would see an increase in after-tax income of 4.1 percent (an $87,000 tax cut), those making between $500,000 and $1 million would see an increase of 3.2 percent (a $17,000 tax cut), and those making between $200,000 and $500,000 would see an increase of 0.8 percent (a $1,800 tax cut).
Because taxpayers above $200,000 as a group have received a net tax cut, revenue neutrality requires that taxpayers below $200,000—about 95 percent of the population—experience a tax increase.
Remember, this is the most progressive estimation of how Romney's plan could work, and it sees a net tax cut for the top 5 percent and a tax hike for, basically, you and everyone else. As Think Progress notes, "All taxpayers making less than $200,000 would see their taxes go up by hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. In particular, families with children would see their taxes go up by $2,041, on average." This is the rosy version of a tax cut plan that projects to cost the government $10.7 trillion in revenues over a decade—while somehow accommodating anywhere from $2.1 to $4.6 trillion in expanded defense spending. And, since Romney won't explain how this "works," it could always be much worse.
All of which Obama might have focused on in a sober way without the gimmick. This wasn't a 30-second ad; it was a campaign stop. Most of the people in attendance were probably adults. He might have instead turned GOP rhetoric on its ear, talking about an upward redistribution of wealth. Instead, he made this about Robin Hood.
Unfortunately, the anti-Muslim seer and Fatwaing-American Limbaugh Rushdie pointed out how this can backfire. After playing clips of other Democrats using the "Romney Hood" line in the past, he said, "Everybody misunderstands the Robin Hood story. Robin Hood was stealing from the government. Robin Hood was a tea party activist. Robin Hood was anti-taxes."
It's not even a new talking point, but it's an easy, memorable and distracting one. Here's famous cosplayer and internment camp enthusiast Michelle Malkin saying that Robin Hood was really a conservative and quoting someone making the same argument in 2002. Here's Tucker Carlson's race-baiting "CLICK HERE TO WIN A GUN" Daily Caller making the same argument in 2010.
The idea that anyone has a goddamn clue about the "real" Robin Hood is preposterous, because there is no real Robin Hood. Even if there were a real Robin Hood, nobody can agree who he was, and the experts offer only guesses. There isn't even an ur-text about him to which we can refer, the way we can cite the three good Star Wars movies and say, "This is what Han Solo believes."
Whatever original ballads about Robin Hood might have existed, they are lost to history. Lyrics and plays written hence disagree with themselves on almost every point. Robin Hood was anti-clerical; the text is mostly irreligious. Robin Hood stole from the rich and gave to the poor; Robin Hood stole from the rich and didn't give shit to anybody. In some cases he's a Saxon hero fighting Norman invaders; in others, he has no politics. The GOP's favored narrative of his stealing taxes unjustly collected by the tyrannical King John was invented centuries later. In earlier texts, he outwits that mean local Sheriff because he's more of a prankster.
This is like arguing with a bunch of bronies whether the mid-1980s My Little Pony animated series or My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is the real canon text. Our political discussion is on the same level as weird internet dudes who want to fuck underage horse animes. This is what happens when you aim low with a gimmick. The gimmick takes over. Over the next few days, people who get paid six figures to make a thinky about the politics are going to argue about a TOTALLY FICTIONAL dweeb in a kelly green banana hammock who used to frolic in tree forts with a bunch of dudes and occasionally made out with somebody given the unisex name Marion. He's all yours, conservatives.
Of course, the Romney campaign initially fired back at the Tax Policy Center's analysis by calling it a biased liberal source. Unfortunately, they'd described it as producing "objective third-party" analysis just months before. So out came the "Obamaloney" line. Eric "The Campaign Is Just Like an Etch-A-Sketch" Fehrnstrom was so proud that he tweeted about it. And, surely, pro-Democratic pundits will get all bent out of shape and make the debate about that—after we straighten up Sherwood Forest.
Considering that the last four years have seen countless GOP officials describe Obama as a Kenyan anti-colonialist baby-genociding Mao Hitler Stalin Pol Pot crypto-Bin Laden determined to enslave the white race at the hands of one-world United Nations Nazi Communism, maybe likening him to a snack beloved by millions of children and adults can slide.