TV political ads should educate, not alienate

There’s been a blitz of TV ads in the past week paid for by Mitt Romney supporters trying to define President Obama for Pennsylvania voters. You can hardly change channels without seeing another commercial paid for by a group other than the candidate’s campaign.

Would it be so bad if the candidates’ proxies spent as much time and money outlining the admirable traits of the person they want to be president? There’s some of that, but too little.

Romney, in particular, should be filling in some gaps. Instead, with steps like refusing to release tax information that would help voters figure him out, he allows his opponent to tell them who he is. For example, it wouldn’t be so easy for Democrats to call Romney “Robin Hood in Reverse” or “Romney Hood” if he would fill in the blanks on his tax plan.

A damning analysis of the plan by the Tax Policy Center has been pooh-poohed by Romney supporters as being biased. But their criticism ignores that two of the three writers of the analysis — William Gale and Donald Marron — were on the Council of Economic Advisers for President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush, respectively.

The TPC report concluded Romney’s plan would hurt the middle class, but the think tank admits its assessment is in part based on guesses about what the plan would do because Romney has left so much to conjecture.

Most important, Romney hasn’t said how he would make up for the billions of dollars of lost revenue that would result from his giving an across-the-board 20 percent rate reduction to anyone who pays taxes. He cryptically says he will cut spending and close tax loopholes. But while most people want a more efficient government, Americans are also seeing the impact on their local economies when reduced federal dollars mean fewer teachers, police officers, and sanitation workers.


Will Mitt Romney's tax plan turn out to be a bailout mostly for the rich?

And there is justifiable fear that Romney is being coy because he wants to change the tax code to eliminate mainstays of the middle class, such as education credits and the deductions for mortgage interest and charitable contributions. Romney can easily put such fears to rest. He should make public his complete tax plan, run TV commercials explaining its details, and let voters decide whether he really is Romney Hood.