We’ll Get Back To You On That

There’s a very funny item at Fortune today (of all places!) suggesting that the GOP’s proud claim of a united party marching to victory behind the crystal clear policy agenda of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan doesn’t survive much scrutiny.

Tory Newmyer decided to ask House Majority Leader Eric Cantor a couple of obvious questions about the agenda that the candidates haven’t make clear, and didn’t get much satisfaction:

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is promoting the Romney-Ryan ticket as a team offering a credible, detailed plan for turning the country around. But some of those details proved troublesome in a sit-down interview with Fortune on Thursday….

Attacking Obama’s health care reform law, Ryan said its “biggest, coldest power play of all” targeted seniors for $716 billion in cuts. But Ryan’s own budget counted on those same savings, which in fact would be squeezed from reimbursement payments to hospitals and insurers. Asked about the inconsistency of Ryan attacking cuts his own plan embraced, Cantor begged off. “The assumption was that, um, the, the, ah, again — I probably can’t speak to that in an exact way so I better just not,” he said.

On tax reform, Cantor noted Romney is proposing a 20% across-the-board reduction in marginal rates — “that’s a fairly straightforward and specific idea that he’s talking about,” he said — as well as lower corporate rates. What Romney hasn’t specified is how he’d get there. For example, his plan doesn’t name any deductions in the current code that he’d cap or eliminate…..

Reminded that Romney hasn’t spelled out his own view, Cantor said, “You’d have to ask him. I don’t know what his position is on that.” He said he expects a discussion of those kinds of specifics to unfold “over the next couple months.”

This won’t keep Republican surrogates next week from saying over and over that Romney’s got a “jobs plan” and Obama doesn’t (much less, in the case of members of Congress like Cantor, admitting they’ve fought his jobs bills like sin itself). But they’ll probably remember a previous appointment if you ask any follow-up questions.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.