Fox & Friends pretended that Mitt Romney gave specific details of his tax plan in an interview with CBS' 60 Minutes. In fact, Romney refused to spell out any loopholes or deductions he would end to pay for his proposed tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
On 60 Minutes, Romney said that he would reduce income tax rates by 20 percent. Romney added "lest people think there's going to be a huge reduction in the taxes they owe, that's really not the case because we're also going to limit deductions particularly for people at the high end." But when pressed for details on which deductions he would eliminate, Romney repeatedly refused to name any.
Nevertheless, Fox's Steve Doocy claimed that we "heard details last night" about Romney's plan.
During the 60 Minutes interview, Pelley asked: "The devil's in the details, though. I mean, what are we talking about? The mortgage deduction? The charitable deduction?" Romney responded: "The devil's in the details. The angel's in the policy, which is creating more jobs."
Pelley tried again, saying: "You have heard the criticism, I'm sure, that your campaign can be vague about some things. And I wonder if this isn't precisely one of those things." Romney again refused to give any specifics, saying "It's very much consistent with my experience as a governor, which is that if you want to work together with people across the aisle, you lay out your principles and your policy, you work together with, but you don't hand them a complete document and say 'here, take this or leave it.' "
Doocy actually praised Romney's refusal to give specifics on deductions, saying: "Pelley tried to pin him down on well, which loopholes would you close. And he said, look, you know, that's what you do with Congress. You don't just have a complete plan and hand it over and say OK, this is a complete plan. Now pass it."
Furthermore, Romney's description of his tax plan on 60 Minutes was no more specific than the plan he laid out much earlier in the campaign. Seven months ago, Romney said he would cut individual rates by 20 percent while eliminating unnamed loopholes, deductions, and tax credits so that the tax cuts "do not expand deficits."
But contrary to Doocy's praise of Romney's tax plan, the Tax Policy Center and FactCheck.org have both found that Romney's tax promises do not add up.
The Tax Policy Center found that Romney's plan must either increase the deficit or reduce the average tax burdens of the wealthiest Americans:
We estimate that these components would reduce revenues by $456 billion in 2015 relative to a current policy baseline. According to statements by Governor Romney and his advisors, the remainder of the plan will include policies to offset this revenue loss, although there are no details on how that would be achieved.
[I]t is not possible to design a revenue-neutral plan that does not reduce average tax burdens and the share of taxes paid by high-income taxpayers under the conditions described above, even when we try to make the plan as progressive as possible. For instance, our calibration of the upper limit suggests that even by eliminating tax expenditures 'starting at the top' -- where we combine the proposed rate cuts with complete elimination of tax expenditures for taxpayers with income over $200,000 -- after-tax income would still increase by 4.1 percent among taxpayers with income over $1,000,000 and 0.8 percent for taxpayers earning between $200,000 to $500,000. (That translates to a tax decrease of $87,000 and $1,800 for those two groups.) However, on average, after-tax income for taxpayers earning less than $200,000 would need to decrease by 1.2 percent, an effective tax increase of $500 per household. (Revenue neutrality would require eliminating 58 percent of total tax expenditures for these households.)
Relying on information from the Tax Policy Center and the Tax Foundation, Factcheck.org determined that Romney "failed to produce evidence that what he promises is possible":
[Romney] has steadfastly refused to say which tax preferences would be cut or reduced. He has pointed to the revenue-neutral proposals for rate-cutting put forth by the deficit commission as evidence that what he proposes is possible in theory, but those proposals pay for the cuts largely by taxing capital gains at the higher rates that apply to ordinary income, a measure Romney has specifically ruled out.
So Romney has failed to produce evidence that what he promises is possible. And we judge that the weight of evidence and expert opinion is clear -- it's not possible.