The Hill// Cameron Joseph
Posted 02/22/12 12:46 PM ET
Mitt Romney released a new tax plan Wednesday that calls for a 20 percent across-the-board cut to individual tax rates. Romney would also reduce the corporate tax rate and put an end to the capital gains tax for most taxpayers.
The new proposal expands upon Romney’s 59-point plan and seemed intended to bigfoot the corporate tax reform proposal unveiled by the Obama administration on Wednesday. Romney slammed President Obama’s proposal after the GOP candidate released his own ideas.
Romney’s proposal would reduce the top 35 percent tax rate to 28 percent, while the bottom 10 percent rate would be reduced to 8 percent.
He calls for a 20 percent across-the-board cut in income taxes; an end to the capital gains tax for families making under $200,000; and a major cut to corporate tax rates. It would also create a “territorial” system that would allow corporations to not pay U.S. taxes on any profits made overseas.
The plan would also make major changes to Social Security and Medicare for future generations. Social Security payments would be indexed so that wealthier Americans received less or none from the program, and the retirement age would be raised.
His Medicare proposal would allow Americans to choose between the current system or receiving vouchers they could use to pay for private plans. This is similar to the one proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and unlike Ryan’s initial plan, passed by House Republicans, would keep the existing fee-for-service system in place alongside a voucher program.
In his speech, Romney called for a “simpler, flatter and fairer” tax system.
“We’ve got to have more jobs, less debt and smaller government,” Romney said in his speech. “They go together.”
The former Massachusetts governor also said in his speech that he would get rid of many deductions for individual taxes, although those were not detailed in his proposal. Most proposed deduction eliminations, like eliminating those for charity, healthcare costs and mortgages, are highly controversial.
He also specifically said he favored a progressive income tax system where the wealthy paid more than poor Americans, a philosophy some conservatives object to.
“I’m going to limit the high-end deductions particularly for high-income folks,” he said. “We can make sure the top 1 percent is paying their current share or more.”
In calling for the 15 percent capital gains tax to be eliminated for lower-income Americans, Romney also walked a line.
Many conservatives argue the capital gains tax is a form of double taxation that should be eliminated as a disincentive for saving. But Romney has come under fire for paying a low tax rate because he mostly pays capital gains taxes. This proposal allows him to placate conservatives without giving Democrats another line of attack against him.
The plan would cut corporate tax rates to 25 percent, down from the current 35 percent, one of the highest rates in the world. Obama’s newly-released proposal calls for a 28 percent rate.
Romney attacked Obama’s plan in his speech.
“He’s raising taxes by hundreds of billions of dollars,” he said. “Raising taxes will kill jobs. my plan will create jobs, that’s the difference between the two of us… I don’t think he understands the power of free people and free enterprises, following their own course in life. I do.”
After some of Romney’s proposals leaked out Tuesday, the Obama campaign said that Romney’s tax cuts would not be paid for sufficiently by the spending cuts he proposes. It said that as a result Romney would increase the deficit by $2 trillion over ten years compared to current policy.
While the plan would dramatically lower tax rates, it is not nearly as big a change as his primary opponents’ plans — or as deep a cut. Newt Gingrich has called for an optional 15 percent flat tax for individuals. Santorum’s plan would collapse the current six tax brackets into two, and called for a 17.5 percent corporate tax rate with no taxes on manufacturers. Ron Paul has talked about eliminating the income tax altogether and reducing the corporate tax rate to 15 percent.