The bulk of the hour was dominated by Perriello, who got deep into the numbers to make his case on why the Romney budget will hurt Floridians. He stressed the report's fairness, saying it was produced on the assumptions Team Romney made about future economic growth.
"What it means is immediate higher costs for Florida seniors, it means higher tuition costs immediately for Florida students, it means higher taxes for Florida families, and less coverage for women in the health care plan that they have," he said.
Romney vowed to repeal the 2010 health care reform legislation on his first day in office. Perriello said that action would negatively impact Floridians on Medicare: The elimination of the so-called "donut hole" would cause a $632 hit for their prescription drugs, and a voucher-like system would cause at least $11,000 to be taken out of their pockets.
Although the Romney-Ryan budget states that current Medicare beneficiaries would not be affected by the plan to turn Medicare into a voucher, Perriello said that's not true. According to the Center for American Progress report, seniors are already benefiting from the health care reform bill in the form of, "improved Medicare benefits and lowered costs."
He also took shots at Romney's proposed tax cut plans, the source of much disagreement after last week's presidential debate, when the GOP presidential candidate said his plan for a 20 percent reduction for all tax rates wouldn't raise the deficit or taxes on the middle class.
The plan has been called a $5 trillion tax cut, but The Atlantic senior editor/economics blogger Derek Thompson thinks it's somewhat of a myth.
But liberals risk constructing a parallel myth when they suggest that Romney's plan would cut taxes by $5 trillion when in fact his proposal is to cut taxes by zero dollars. If you don't believe his plan, then you don't believe his plan. If you think he's lying about his plan, then you think he's lying. But there's a big difference between saying Mitt Romney's lying/has proposed a fantasy tax plan and saying Mitt Romney's tax plan cuts taxes by $5 trillion. The first is opinion. The second is false.
My opinion is that Romney's plan is too vague to say practically anything about it. If Romney wants to cut tax rates by 20 percent, he's proposing a plan that almost certainly loses revenue. If he's proposing a plan that doesn't lose revenue or raise taxes on upper-middle class families, then the most specific element of his plan has to go. In fact, I think the president aptly criticized its vagueness in the debate:
The Obama administration quoted the Tax Policy Center as the neutral arbiter, claiming that Romney's tax cut plan, as currently framed, can't pay for itself. Romney dismissed the group's criticisms. Earlier this week, the Tax Policy Center's co-director, William G. Gale, wrote an op-ed defending his organization's stance on the Romney tax cut plan.
Likewise, Romney's recent support of placing a cap on taxapayers' itemized deductions has the potential to finance some of the tax cuts, and so is a step in the right direction. It remains to be seen, though, whether Romney can develop enough "pay-fors" to cover his tax cuts and not burden the middle class.
Or as one example of what might happen, Alan Viard, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute noted in the New York Times, suggested that Romney is "going to need to cut rates significantly less than 20 percent if he wants to honor his other goals." Exactly: something would have to give.
More generally, the basic power of arithmetic is overwhelming in showing that Governor Romney has so far overpromised on the tax side.
You can expect these disagreements about Medicare and the Romney tax cut plan to be a source of conversation in the remaining presidential and vice-presidential debates.