An important point from Jonathan Chait:
It’s worth considering a similar — in many ways, identical — episode that took place a dozen years before. During the 2000 election, the growth of a budget surplus offered the country a major choice. Al Gore proposed to use most of the surplus to retire the national debt and the balance for public investment. George W. Bush proposed a large, regressive income tax that Gore warned would exacerbate inequality and jeopardize the soundness of the budget.
Then, as now, the Republican simply denied over and over that his plan would do what the Democrats said it would. Bush portrayed his plan as devoting just a small fraction of the surplus to tax cuts and described his tax cut itself as benefitting the poor far more than the rich. And you certainly could find circumstantial evidence to suggest that Bush might govern the way he portrayed himself, rather than the way his plan read. He had governed in a bipartisan way in Texas, he had explicitly denounced the conservative wing of the Congressional GOP, and he had surrounded himself with moderate advisers like Michael Gerson and Karen Hughes.
But Bush in fact followed through on what his plan actually did, which happened to be what Gore described it as, and not what Bush described it as. His promises to maintain the budget surplus and direct most of the tax cuts to lower-earners fell by the wayside. What mattered was the party, and the Republican Party was committed to a policy of regressive tax cuts.
I really don’t know why the press would give Romney the benefit of the doubt on this question. Both times in America’s recent history that movement conservative politicians got the political power to enact their economic agenda, they did the same thing. They passed enormous deficit-financed regressive tax cuts, which predictably created gaping budget deficits. Romney’s own website says he’s committed to the $5 trillion tax cut plan. He’s been campaigning on this all year. Congressional Republicans are also in support of a huge regressive tax cut. Why does anybody think this would go down any differently than the last two times conservatives took power?