Not long ago, Mitt Romney was bashing President Obama for a “hot mic” moment. Now, Democrats are making hay out of Mitt Romney’s overheard private comments at a fundraiser, in which he offered up some details about tax loopholes he’ll close and vowed to take the hatchet to federal departments.
Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer on Monday called the remarks “a rare moment of candor where he gave his unvarnished view” that helped “pull back the curtain” on his policies which have largely remained a secret.
On a conference call with reporters hosted by the DNC, Schumer noted that the tax promises Romney made during a high-dollar fundraiser don’t add up, and argued that “the only way” the ex-governor can pay for his high-end tax cuts is to “clobber” the middle class with damaging cuts to federal departments like education and housing.
Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ), also on the call, said slashing the Department of Education — one of two agencies Romney told his donors he’d like to hack away at — would mean some combination of raising the price of student loans, cutting back on scholarships or Pell grants and increasing state or local taxes.
“Gov. Romney told us that’s where he’s going and I don’t think the people of America want to go there,” Andrews said.
Schumer, the No. 3 Senate Democrat, also went after Romney for being secretive. “Mitt Romney has made a disturbing habit of hiding information from people, and now he’s trying to hide information about his tax plan,” the New York senator said. “Apparently Mitt Romney will only share details [of his policies] if you contribute $50,000 to his campaign.”
For Romney, the Democratic attacks are ironic because the ex-governor recently made a big deal out of President Obama’s recent “hot mic” comment in which he told the Russian leader he’ll have more flexibility on missile defense policy after reelection. Romney campaign spokesperson Andrea Saul nevertheless fired back at the secrecy charge and characterized Dems’ focus on the moment as a distraction.
“It’s ironic the Obama campaign would accuse anyone of not being forthcoming on the same day a top official from President Obama’s scandal-plagued GSA is hiding behind the Fifth Amendment before a committee of Congress,” she said in a statement. “President Obama cannot bear to face his own record of high unemployment, tax increases and massive debt. No matter how hard President Obama tries to run from his record, Gov. Romney is going to continue talking about his plans to get the country back on the right track.”
On a conference call with reporters Monday, Romney surrogates downplayed the significance of the policy proposals the candidate mentioned at the fundraiser Sunday night, clarifying that they were merely a discussion of issues rather than an official platform.
No matter, Schumer insisted that Dems won’t let the moment fly by the wayside, vowing that Romney’s remarks are “going to reverberate in the campaign for a time to come.”
Sahil Kapur is a congressional reporter for TPM. He previously covered politics and public policy for numerous publications including The Guardian and The Huffington Post. He can be reached at sahil [at] talkingpointsmemo.com.