“Don’t Tell Anybody”: Romney Offers A Peek Behind The Policy Curtain
“I’m going to take a lot of departments in Washington, and agencies, and combine them. Some eliminate, but I’m probably not going to lay out just exactly which ones are going to go,” Romney said. “Things like Housing and Urban Development, which my dad was head of, that might not be around later. But I’m not going to actually go through these one by one. What I can tell you is, we’ve got far too many bureaucrats. I will send a lot of what happens in Washington back to the states.”
“I’m going to probably eliminate for high income people the second home mortgage deduction,” he continued, adding that he would also support eliminating deductions for state income and property taxes.
Till now, Romney has been very specific about his intention to be very vague. Back in March, he told the conservative Weekly Standard, “one of the things I found in a short campaign against Ted Kennedy was that when I said, for instance, that I wanted to eliminate the Department of Education, that was used to suggest I don’t care about education…So will there be some that get eliminated or combined? The answer is yes, but I’m not going to give you a list right now.”
Sunday’s comments, however, were “overheard by reporters on a sidewalk below.” Romney thought he was speaking privately to a group of conservative donors. And so they offer, in theory, a look behind the curtain. The only problem is there’s not much there.
Romney’s tax plan — which extends all the Bush tax cuts and then cuts taxes even further — will cost the Treasury trillions of dollars in lost revenue. You can’t make that up by capping a few deductions for high-income taxpayers. And while it sounds very tough to talk about closing agencies, it doesn’t save you much money unless you’re also willing to cut the services they provide.
To make his numbers add up, Romney needs to close the largest and most popular deductions in the tax code and cut huge swaths of government social spending. And as of now, he’s not willing to talk about doing that. Not even in private.
By: Ezra Klein, Wonkblog, The Washington Post, April 16, 2012