One of the chief criticisms of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan is that their talk on tax policy solutions has been both vague and dangerously thin on details. However, while many in the media were focusing on "lowered expectations" and debate details, Gov. Romney on Monday announced some specific solutions.
Simply put, along with his proposal to cut taxes across the board by 20 percent, Gov. Romney also proposed capping itemized deductions at $17,000 per filer.
"As an option you could say everybody’s going to get up to a $17,000 deduction; and you could use your charitable deduction, your home mortgage deduction, or others — your healthcare deduction, and you can fill that bucket, if you will, that $17,000 bucket that way. And higher income people might have a lower number," said Romney during an interview with Denver's FOX31.
"Or you could do it by the same method that Bowles-Simpson did it where you could limit certain deductions, but that’s the sort of thing you do with Congress," he added.
A few critics were pleased with Romney's idea.
"This proposal gives Romney a concrete response to the Obama campaign attack that he wants to raise taxes on the middle class. This policy would hold almost every taxpayer making less than $200,000 a year harmless from tax increases," writes Josh Barro for Bloomberg.
"If tax rates are cut by 20 percent across the board, as Romney also proposes, you would have to face a 25 percent increase in your taxable income to get hit with a tax increase," he adds.
For example, that means a family with $150,000 in income would have to be taking $43,600 in itemized deductions today in order to get hit with a tax increase -- not impossible, but unlikely. (And many of those high-deduction filers get hit with the Alternative Minimum Tax today, which Romney says he would repeal.)
But there are a few who've reacted to Romney’s proposal with more caution than praise because, they say, the plan isn't specific enough.
"I have to see the details because I can't get behind this idea until I know middle class taxes will not go up," said CNBC’s Larry Kudlow, who argues that a limit of deductions, technically speaking, increases taxes.
"I want Romney to red line all middle class deductions -- leave them alone," Kudlow added.
And, of course, the Obama campaign has attacked Romney’s idea as not good enough.
"Romney still refuses to be straight with the American people. While he promised to pay for his $5 trillion tax cut plan that's skewed toward millionaires and billionaires by closing tax loopholes for the wealthiest Americans, independent analysts have shown that his plan can only be paid for by eliminating deductions that middle class families rely on, like the mortgage interest deduction," said Obama spokeswoman Lis Smith, according to ABC News.
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Front page photo source courtesy the AP.