The curious number in Romney’s tax proposal

Updated
Former MA Governor Mitt Romney campaigns through swing states, seen here in June with Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA)
Former MA Governor Mitt Romney campaigns through swing states, seen here in June with Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA)

In a Monday night interview with a Fox affiliate in Denver, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney announced he would limit tax deductions up to $17,000. That’s all well and good, but did he pick that number out of thin air? The former Massachusetts governor didn’t specify in his quoted comments:

“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.

“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.”

While we wait to find out why Romney chose that $17,000 number or if he will adjust it, the proposal appears as close to a politically neutral one as possible in the world of taxes. It increases federal revenue while avoiding targeting any one particular exemption, deduction, or group of people that might lead to an outcry. Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) proposed limiting the value of deductions in July, but he offered no specific number in his plan to reduce the deficit.

Hopefully, in the 45 minutes allotted to discussing the economy in tonight’s debate, moderator Jim Lehrer can offer some pointed questions to elicit more specifics about Romney’s vague tax plan.

Video of Romney’s interview with the Fox affiliate is embedded below.


Mitt Romney

The curious number in Romney's tax proposal

Updated