Ryan plan would let Romney pay less than 1 percent in taxes?

President Obama: “(Congressman Ryan) put forward a plan that would let Governor Romney pay less than 1 percent in taxes each year.”


President Obama made an accurate statement about the budget proposal vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan made in 2010. However, Ryan has since updated his tax reform proposal and it no longer would allow Romney to pay less than 1 percent in annual taxes.


The Facts

At a campaign event in Windham, New Hampshire on Aug. 18, President Obama said the following: “(Congressman Ryan) put forward a plan that would let Governor Romney pay less than 1 percent in taxes each year. ”

An analysis from The Atlantic supports the President’s claim, as does an assessment from Annenberg Fact Check. Romney, after all, receives the great bulk of his recent income through dividends and capital gains. The 2010 Ryan plan, the “Roadmap to America’s Future” eliminated taxes on both forms of income.

The isolated sentence from Mr. Obama, then, was true. Because true statements often occur as key parts of misleading arguments, however, an analysis of the president’s rhetoric follows below.

Analyzing the Rhetoric

Why attack a version of Ryan’s plan that Ryan no longer advocates?

That avenue of attack allows Mr. Obama to feed the campaign narrative that frames his opponent as a rich elitist trying to enact policies that help other rich people. The ad makes use of a type of the straw man fallacy, focusing on the outdated Ryan plan, and ends up as a personal attack on both Ryan and Romney. The argument would make Ryan the pawn of the rich. Romney’s rich, and in the broader context of the Obama campaign’s ad campaign either out of touch or allied with rich special interests.

The personal attack is not necessarily fallacious.


O’Brien, Matthew. “Mitt Romney Would Pay 0.82 Percent in Taxes Under Paul Ryan’s Plan.” The Atlantic. The Atlantic Monthly Group, 11 Aug. 2012. Web. 3 Oct. 2012.

Robertson, Lori. “Outdated Attacks on Ryan.” FactCheck.org. The Annenberg Public Policy Center, 14 Aug. 2012. Web. 3 Oct. 2012.

Montgomery, Lori, Jia Lynn Yang, and Philip Rucker. “Mitt Romney’s Tax Returns Shed Some Light on His Investment Wealth.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 24 Jan. 2012. Web. 3 Oct. 2012.

The Path to Prosperity: Restoring America’s Promise” House Committee on the Budget, n.d. Web.  3 Oct. 2011


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