From the "60 Minutes" interview with Mitt Romney:
Pelley: What would the individual federal income tax rates be?
Romney: Well, they would be the current rates less 20 percent. So the top rate, for instance, would go from 35 to 28. Middle rates would come down by 20 percent as well. All the rates come down. But unless 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 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.
Pelley: The tax rate for everyone in your plan would go down.
Romney: That's right.
Pelley: But because you're going to limit exemptions and deductions, everybody's going to essentially be paying the same taxes.
Romney: That's right. Middle income people will probably see a little break, because there'll be no tax on their savings....
Pelley: And corporate tax rates?
Romney: Corporate tax rates, also, I'd bring down and with the same idea. Let's get rid of some of the loopholes, deductions, special deals, such that we're able to pay for the reduction. I don't want a reduction in revenue coming into the government.
Honestly, I don't want to be disrespectful of Mr. Romney, I understand he means well and is working hard, but if this is his tax position and the best he can do at explaining it, he deserves to lose the election. What the Republican candidate needs to be telling voters is that he wants their taxes to be a lot lower than President Obama does. That has the virtue, I thought, of being true. The message of "vote for me, I'll keep your taxes 'essentially the same,' maybe you'll get a 'little break' if you fall into my approved level of income" is a non-winner. It's not meaningfully different from President Obama's message. Whatever a Republican politician should do, he shouldn't describe a tax cut he's running on as "little." If it's "little," why should it matter to any voter? Why should the candidate even bother with it? Voters realize that if it's little now, it's going to be even littler after a president gets finished compromising with Congressional Democrats.