The Romney tax plan: Not a tax hike on the middle class

Democrats launched a surprising attack on GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in recent weeks when they accused the governor of trying to raise taxes on the middle class. This criticism is odd coming from the party that unapologetically seeks hundreds of billions of dollars in tax hikes and that adopted numerous tax increases, including some on the middle class, in President Obama's healthcare reform. The Democrats' attack is also an about-face on their standard argument that Republicans think the solution to every problem is another tax cut.

The Democrats have spent millions of advertising dollars in an intensive and well-coordinated attack on Romney's proposal to simplify, streamline, and reform the tax code-a tax code that virtually no one thinks works well. Two think tanks, Obama's campaign, super PACs, and high-profile media reports have all converged on this message.

Romney recently spelled out his tax reform objectives to Meet the Press: "Bring our rates down to encourage growth, keep revenue up by limiting deductions and exemptions, and make sure we don't put any bigger burden on middle income people." 

What Is Actually Included in Romney's Tax Plan
In order to objectively assess the claims made by the critics, let's begin by looking closely at the key components of Romney's proposal:

  • Reduce statutory income tax rates 20 percent, from 10, 15, 25, 28, 33, and 35 percent to 8, 12, 20, 22.4, and 28 percent.
  • Reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. 
  • Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax for individuals and corporations.
  • Repeal the estate tax.
  • Eliminate, curtail, and reform numerous special provisions in the tax code-the credits, deductions, and exclusions that cause complexity, compliance problems, distortions, and inefficiencies.

 

In many regards, the Romney plan is like that of Obama's bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission. Both plans share a structural consistency of low tax rates and a broader tax base. One important difference is that Romney proposes to keep the top tax rate on capital gains and dividends unchanged while Simpson-Bowles proposes raising those rates considerably. Furthermore, the Simpson-Bowles plan is an explicit tax increase-$80 billion a year more than even Obama has proposed-while Romney's tax reform plan is revenue neutral. 

Read the full article on The American.

Alex Brill is a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

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