Romney Vows to Maintain 'Progressive' Tax Code

April 23, 2012 - 3:44 PM

Romney 2012

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks at the RNC State Chairman's National Meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz., Friday, April 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

(CNSNews.com) - Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has repeatedly vowed during his presidential campaign that if he is elected president he will maintain the "progressivity" of the tax code, so that as a person's income goes up he or she will be required to give an increasing percentage of it to the government in taxes.

Romney's advocacy of a progressive tax goes back a long way. In 1996, as a private citizen, according to the Boston Globe, he spent $50,000 of his own money to run full-page advertisements in the Globe, the Des Moines Register, the New Hampshire Sunday News and the Boston Herald to express his opposition to the 17-percent flat tax that then-presidential candidate Steve Forbes was promoting as a part of his campaign.

"I'm hoping that by running these ad voters will realize the Forbes flat tax is a gimmick, a phony, and not what it pretends to be," Romney told the Globe that year.

Romney's ads against the Forbes flat tax, the Globe reported, attacked Forbes's plan because it did not tax interest, dividends or capital gains. "The Forbes tax isn't a flat tax at all--it's tax cut for fat cats!" Romney's ad said.

In this campaign, Romney's insistence that he will maintain the progressivity in the tax code seems to reject a tenet of supply-side economics--which holds that reducing the marginal tax rate increases the incentive for small business people to invest additional dollars expanding their businesses and creating jobs because they will not be penalized for the added return that risking their money might bring it.

In an April 17 interview with Larry Kudlow on CNBC, Romney indicated that he intended to take back from the wealthiest taxpayers any break they got from the reducing the top income tax rates by eliminating for them some of the tax deductions that people in lower brackets would still be able to claim.

"[U]nderstand," said Romney, "that virtually all the  of the deductions and exemptions, particularly for high-income taxpayers are going to be on the table, because we are going to have to eliminate--well, limit rather, not eliminate, but limit--for high-income individuals some of the deduction and exemptions in order to compensate for the deductions in rates."

On February 26, 2012, Romney told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday that he wants, “to make sure that we maintain the progressivity of the [tax] code.”

“I’m not trying to change the progressivity of the code, I’m not trying to say that one group or another is going to get a better deal, but what I am trying to do is to make sure that under no circumstances is the middle class going to end up with a larger share of the tax burden,” said Romney.

“I want to make sure that we maintain the progressivity in the code, and I want to help people who I think have been most hurt by the Obama economy, and that’s middle income Americans. I’m not looking to change the deal that we have right now with regards to people looking at their share of the tax burden.”

On March 3, during a FoxNews interview with college senior Devin Largent on “Huckabee,” Romney said: “By lowering marginal rates across the board, we’ll have two things we also do. One is to limit the deductions and exemptions that exist particularly for people at the high end of the income spectrum so that one, we maintain progressivity in the code and number two, we’re keeping the revenue coming in by getting rid of some of the exemptions and deductions, or not getting rid of but by limiting them. And then secondly, we’ll get a growth effect.”

At a campaign event at Tri-City Christian Academy in Chandler, Ariz., on February 22, 2012, the candidate said he would not only maintain the “progressivity” of the tax code, but also ensure “the top 1%” pays the same amount or more in taxes.

“And also in order to make sure that we continue to have progressivity as we have had in the past in our code, I'm going to limit the deductions and exemptions particularly for high income folks,” he said.

“But for high income folks, we're going cut back on [deductions] so that we make sure that the top 1% keeps paying the current share they're paying or more. We want middle income Americans to be the place we focus our help because it’s middle income Americans that have been hurt by this Obama economy.”

At a private fund raiser in Palm Beach, Fla. Romney reportedly promised to eliminate numerous tax reductions that are usually available to high income earning Americans, to offset the lost tax revenue as a direct result of lower marginal rates.

“I’m going to probably eliminate for high income people the second-home mortgage deduction,” said Romney. “By virtue of doing that, we’ll get the same tax revenue, but we’ll have lower rates.”

And during an interview with Larry Kudlow on “The Kudlow Report” on April 17, Romney said: “So what we really need to do is to simplify our tax code, lower our rates, at the same time eliminate, or limit rather some deductions or exemptions particularly for high income folks. And by virtue of doing that you can keep the progressivity in the code, at the same time you can make it more likely for small businesses to start.”

"Well, I've put a number of things on the table, and you understand that virtually all the  of the deductions and exemptions, particularly for high-income taxpayers are going to be on the table, because we are going to have to eliminate--well, limit rather, not eliminate, but limit--for high-income individuals some of the deduction and exemptions in order to compensate for the deductions in rates," Romney told Kudlow. "This is, of course, the way that Bowles-Simpson laid out their plan. Bring the rates down, the tax rates down, top marginal rates down, so that businesses have an incentive to hire again and to grow and to pay for that in part by limiting the deductions and exemptions particularly on high-income folks because it is my intent not to reduce the burden paid by the top earners but instead to maintain it at its current level but to bring the rates down."

According to the tax plan on his campaign’s Web site, Gov. Romney plans to cut marginal tax rates by 20 percent, in addition to reducing taxes on dividends, capital gains and interest on all those who earn less than $200,000.

He also plans to eliminate the federal estate tax -- commonly referred to as the death tax, and decrease the corporate tax rate to 25 percent as a way to boost American global competitiveness.