Want Details of Mitt Romney’s Tax Plan? Just Listen.

Both Democrats and Republicans are complaining that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney hasn't provided any details on the tax loopholes he plans to eliminate. Romney says he would cut marginal tax rates by 20 percent across the board. At the same time, he says he would limit deductions in order to prevent tax revenue from falling.

Which deductions? What loopholes? If people would just stop whining long enough to listen, they might actually hear what he's saying.

In an interview on CBS News' "60 Minutes" on Sunday, Romney said the following:

We're also going to limit deductions and exemptions, particularly for people at the high end. Because I want to keep the current progressivity in the code. There should be no tax reduction for high-income people. What I would like to do is to get a tax reduction for middle income families by eliminating the tax for middle-income families on interest, dividends and capital gains.

If you were expecting him to say he would ax the mortgage-interest deduction and the exclusion for employer-provided health care -- two of the costliest tax expenditures -- don't hold your breath. Romney intends to eliminate loopholes for certain classes, not certain classes of loopholes.

He has said so before. During the primary campaign, he stated he would give tax breaks to households earning less than $250,000 a year. High-income earners won't get the same breaks as middle-income families.

Now, Romney isn't saying any of this very loudly -- and that's probably just as well. Tax reform is supposed to simplify the code, not create new incentives for people to rejigger their income to qualify for certain deductions.

Maybe I'm wrong, or hard of hearing, or just plain stupid. But it's hard to argue that Romney has failed to provide any specifics about his tax plan. Maybe what his critics are really saying is that they don’t like the details they've already heard.

(Caroline Baum is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow her on Twitter.)

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