The mainstream media, to their credit, have latched onto the fact that Mitt Romney won’t describe roughly half of his tax plan—something sure to come up in tonight’s debate. Romney pledges to reduce taxes by $5 trillion through well-detailed cuts, but since Republicans are deeply concerned about the deficit (ahem, cough) Romney claims he would also eliminate or reduce tax breaks to make up for the lost revenue and make the plan deficit-neutral. He just won’t say which ones.
There’s a reason for that—independent analyses show Romney would have to cut popular deductions used by the middle class in order to truly offset the lost revenue. He denies this, of course, but it’s hard to believe Romney if he won’t actually explain the details. (This week his campaign floated a plan to cap deductions at $17,000, which still won’t make the math work).
This rather shocking lack of specificity lead even Fox News’s Chris Wallace to go after Paul Ryan this weekend in a quest for details, an indignity Romney has repeatedly suffered as well. The Obama campaign has relentlessly hammered the Romney/Ryan ticket on this point, and openly told reporters this week that since “Romney won’t name which deductions he’ll eliminate,” Obama will press him to do so during tonight’s debate.
But frequently lost in this conversation is the fact that Romney has, in fact, named three (and only three) specific deductions that he would reduce. Not surprisingly, they mainly affect low-income families. I’ll pull from the Center for American Progress’s lengthy examination of Romney’s economic policies earlier this year for the details:
Eliminate President Obama’s American Opportunity Tax Credit for families paying for college
Under the current American Opportunity Tax Credit, families are eligible for a tax credit of up to $2,500 for four years of college (partially refundable for families with no income tax liability). Under Gov. Romney’s plan, credits would be limited to a nonrefundable credit of about $1,800, available only for two years of college.
Reduce the Earned Income Tax Credit for larger families