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Run the numbers

Ed Gillespie, a senior advisor to Mitt Romney, talked to Wolf Blitzer yesterday and was asked when the Romney-Ryan budget plan would balance the federal budget. Gillespie didn't have the foggiest idea.

As it happens, the question didn't just come out of thin air. Blitzer raised the point yesterday, but on Tuesday night, Fox News' Brit Hume asked Rep. Paul Ryan, Romney's running mate, the same question. Ryan was also stumped, saying, "We haven't run the numbers on that specific plan."

I honestly don't know what that means. The Romney-Ryan ticket has presented a budget plan, based in part on the Ryan budget plan that's already been voted on in Congress. Romney and Ryan are making plenty of promises based on their expectations of how effective their plan would be if they're elected.

But they "haven't run the numbers" on it. Hmm. If they "haven't run the numbers," how do Romney and Ryan know their numbers add up? How do they assure voters they have a credible plan to balance the budget?

When, exactly, do they think they might get around to running the numbers? Do they realize there's a presidential election coming up in a few months?

Of course, we know the reason the campaign can't answer the question -- it would require a level of specificity Team Romney is uncomfortable with. Indeed, Romney himself has said his plan "can't be scored."

I hate to break it to the Republican ticket, but a budget plan that can't be scored isn't a budget plan.

Romney's numbers don't add up. They can either admit that or start providing evidence to the contrary, but "we haven't run the numbers" isn't much of an answer.

Benjy Sarlin had a good related piece on this yesterday, explaining that Romney's positions "have become even more confusing since Ryan joined the ticket," though many hoped the opposite would happen, and the campaign's positions on taxes, spending, and debt reduction are now even harder to pin down than they were a week ago.