Presidential town hall debate excerpts – Mitt Romney on his tax plan

Edited by Jenny Jiang

Excerpts from the presidential town hall debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on Oct. 16, 2012

Transcript of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s remarks on his tax plan

Mary Follano’s question: Governor Romney, you have stated that if you’re elected president, you would plan to reduce the tax rates for all the tax brackets and that you would work with the Congress to eliminate some deductions in order to make up for the loss in revenue. Concerning the — these various deductions, the mortgage deductions, the charitable deductions, the child tax credit and also the — oh, what’s that other credit? I forgot.

President Barack Obama: You’re doing great.

Mary Follano: Oh, I remember. The education credits, which are important to me, because I have children in college. What would be your position on those things, which are important to the middle class?

Gov. Mitt Romney: Thank you very much. And let me tell you, you’re absolutely right about part of that, which is I want to bring the rates down, I want to simplify the tax code, and I want to get middle- income taxpayers to have lower taxes.

And the reason I want middle-income taxpayers to have lower taxes is because middle-income taxpayers have been buried over the past four years. You’ve seen, as middle-income people in this country, incomes go down $4,300 a family, even as gasoline prices have gone up $2,000. Health insurance premiums, up $2,500. Food prices up. Utility prices up.

The middle-income families in America have been crushed over the last four years. So I want to get some relief to middle-income families. That’s part — that’s part one.

Now, how about deductions? ‘Cause I’m going to bring rates down across the board for everybody, but I’m going to limit deductions and exemptions and credits, particularly for people at the high end, because I am not going to have people at the high end pay less than they’re paying now.

The top 5 percent of taxpayers will continue to pay 60 percent of the income tax the nation collects. So that’ll stay the same.

Middle-income people are going to get a tax break.

And so, in terms of bringing down deductions, one way of doing that would be say everybody gets — I’ll pick a number — $25,000 of deductions and credits, and you can decide which ones to use. Your home mortgage interest deduction, charity, child tax credit, and so forth, you can use those as part of filling that bucket, if you will, of deductions.

But your rate comes down and the burden also comes down on you for one more reason, and that is every middle-income taxpayer no longer will pay any tax on interest, dividends or capital gains. No tax on your savings. That makes life a lot easier.

If you’re getting interest from a bank, if you’re getting a statement from a mutual fund or any other kind of investment you have, you don’t have to worry about filing taxes on that, because there’ll be no taxes for anybody making $200,000.00 per year and less, on your interest, dividends and capital gains. Why am I lowering taxes on the middle-class? Because under the last four years, they’ve been buried. And I want to help people in the middle-class.

And I will not — I will not under any circumstances, reduce the share that’s being paid by the highest income taxpayers. And I will not, under any circumstances increase taxes on the middle-class.

The president’s spending, the president’s borrowing will cost this nation to have to raise taxes on the American people. Not just at the high end. A recent study has shown the people in the middle-class will see $4,000.00 per year in higher taxes as a result of the spending and borrowing of this administration.

I will not let that happen. I want to get us on track to a balanced budget, and I’m going to reduce the tax burden on middle income families. And what’s that going to do? It’s going to help those families, and it’s going to create incentives to start growing jobs again in this country.

You heard what I said about my tax plan. The top 5 percent will continue to pay 60 percent, as they do today. I’m not looking to cut taxes for wealthy people. I am looking to cut taxes for middle-income people.

And why do I want to bring rates down, and at the same time lower exemptions and deductions, particularly for people at the high end? Because if you bring rates down, it makes it easier for small business to keep more of their capital and hire people.

And for me, this is about jobs. I want to get America’s economy going again. Fifty-four percent of America’s workers work in businesses that are taxed as individuals. So when you bring those rates down, those small businesses are able to keep more money and hire more people.

For me, I look at what’s happened in the last four years and say this has been a disappointment. We can do better than this. We don’t have to settle for, how many months, 43 months with unemployment above 8 percent, 23 million Americans struggling to find a good job right now.

There are 3.5 million more women living in poverty today than when the president took office.

We don’t have to live like this. We can get this economy going again. My five-point plan does it. Energy independence for North America in five years. Opening up more trade, particularly in Latin America. Cracking down on China when they cheat. Getting us to a balanced budget. Fixing our training programs for our workers. And finally, championing small business.

I want to make small businesses grow and thrive. I know how to make that happen. I spent my life in the private sector. I know why jobs come and why they go. And they’re going now because of the policies of this administration.

Moderator Candy Crowley: …If somehow when you get in there, there isn’t enough tax revenue coming in. If somehow the numbers don’t add up, would you be willing to look again at a 20 percent…

Gov. Mitt Romney: Well of course they add up. I — I was — I was someone who ran businesses for 25 years, and balanced the budget. I ran the Olympics and balanced the budget. I ran the — the state of Massachusetts as a governor, to the extent any governor does, and balanced the budget all four years. When we’re talking about math that doesn’t add up, how about $4 trillion of deficits over the last four years, $5 trillion? That’s math that doesn’t add up. We have — we have a president talking about someone’s plan in a way that’s completely foreign to what my real plan is.

And then we have his own record, which is we have four consecutive years where he said when he was running for office, he would cut the deficit in half. Instead he’s doubled it. We’ve gone from $10 trillion of national debt, to $16 trillion of national debt. If the president were reelected, we’d go to almost $20 trillion of national debt. This puts us on a road to Greece. I know what it takes to balance budgets. I’ve done it my entire life. So for instance when he says, “Yours is a $5 trillion cut.” Well, no it’s not. Because I’m offsetting some of the reductions with holding down some of the deductions.

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