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Ezra Klein on How Just About Everybody Else Working for the Washington Post Is Ignoring the Elephant

The massive policy gap between Obama and Romney:

The policy gap, put simply, is this: Obama has proposed policies. Mitt Romney hasn’t…. [T]his exists separately from any judgments about the quality of either man’s policies. You can believe every idea Obama has proposed is a socialist horror inspired by Kenyan revenge fantasies. This would, I think, be a strange judgment to reach about plans to invest in infrastructure, temporarily double the size of the payroll tax cuts and raise the marginal tax rate on income over $250,000 by 4.5 percentage points. Nevertheless, Obama’s policy proposals are sufficiently detailed that they can be fully assessed and conclusions — even odd ones — confidently drawn. Romney’s policies are not.

Romney’s offerings are more like simulacra of policy proposals. They look, from far away, like policy proposals. They exist on his Web site, under the heading of “Issues,” with subheads like “Tax” and “Health care.” But read closely, they are not policy proposals. They do not include the details necessary to judge Romney’s policy ideas. In many cases, they don’t contain any details at all…. Whether you think it’s a good idea or a bad idea to raise taxes on the rich, Obama has told you exactly what he wants to do. Conversely, whether you think it’s a good idea or a bad idea to cut marginal tax rates by broadening the base, Romney hasn’t actually told you what he wants to do.

The same is true in other policy areas…. On financial regulation, Romney would “repeal Dodd-Frank and replace with streamlined, modern regulatory framework.” That is literally his entire plan. Three years after a homegrown financial crisis wrecked the global economy, the likely Republican nominee for president would repeal the new regulatory architecture and replace it with … something….

[I]n 2008, John McCain ran on a far more detailed policy platform than Romney. To name just one example, like Romney, McCain promised to end the tax code’s discrimination against health insurance bought by individuals. But he told us how he would do it: by taxing employer-based insurance and using the savings to give families a $5,000 tax credit to put toward buying health insurance. Nor has Romney released anything that matches “Renewing America’s Purpose,” the 457-page policy book that George W. Bush released during the 2000 election. Romney’s vagueness is unique among modern presidential campaigns.

It should not be considered partisan to demand details from the two men campaigning to be president…. Romney has refused to give voters the most basic information about what he would do…. That’s not acceptable. And neither voters nor the media should accept it.

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?

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