In separate interviews Sunday, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan refused to identify which tax loopholes they would close in order to pay for their large tax cuts.
On NBC’s “Meet The Press,” Romney dodged multiple questions about which deductions or credits he’d target, saying only that he’ll get rid of “some of the loopholes and deductions at the high end” while seeking to “lower the burden on middle income people.”
Pressed for one specific example, Romney replied, “Well, the specifics are these which is those principles I described are the heart of my policy.”
On ABC’s “This Week,” Ryan also fended off multiple questions about whether the Romney-Ryan tax plan should be taken seriously given its lack of details on which loopholes they would close.
“Mitt Romney and I, based on our experience, think the best way to do this is to show the framework, show the outlines of these plans, and then to work with Congress to do this. That’s how you get things done,” he said.
The Romney-Ryan plan would cut taxes beneath existing Bush-era levels, with benefits disproportionately for high earners, at a cost of roughly $5 trillion. They have vowed that the breaks would be revenue-neutral by way of closing tax credits and deductions but have persisted in their refusal to specify which ones, other than promising that the changes wouldn’t target middle class Americans.
A large chunk of the over $1 trillion in annual federal tax credits and deductions — including for home mortgage interest and employer-based health care — benefit middle class Americans. Other perks, like preferential tax treatment of capital gains and dividends, are strongly supported by Republicans, including Romney.
At the Democratic convention, Bill Clinton called the Romney tax plan mathematically unsound. In order to meet his targets, the former president said, Romney will “have to eliminate so many deductions, like the ones for home mortgages and charitable giving, that middle-class families will see their tax bills go up.” Otherwise, he said, “they’ll have to cut so much spending that they’ll obliterate the budget for the national parks, for ensuring clean air, clean water, safe food, safe air travel.”
Romney and Ryan have been pounded by Democrats for the hazy details of their tax agenda. On Sunday, Ryan said it’s not a “secret plan” even as he declined to offer details.
Pressed repeatedly on “Meet The Press” how he would make the numbers add up, Romney didn’t take the bait, instead saying voters should trust him.
“I’ve had the experience of being a governor,” he said. “I’ve demonstrated that I have the capacity to balance budgets.”
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.