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Mitt’s tax deduction targets

By Kay Bell ·
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Posted: 4 pm ET

Republicans will be gathering in Tampa, Fla., next week (if Tropical Storm/Hurricane Isaac lets them), and Willard "Mitt" Romney will officially become the party's presidential nominee.

So maybe when he has the final stamp of approval, Romney will put a little meat on his bare-bones tax plan and tell us which tax deductions he would eliminate in order to make his proposed tax cuts revenue neutral.

Don't count on it. Romney and his vice presidential choice Paul Ryan, R-Wis., have both repeatedly said they want all tax law changes to be part of a general discussion "in consultation with Congress."

Uh, guys. You won't be able to consult with Congress unless you win the election.

Oh, I get it. You don't want to talk specific taxes until after the election.

I now am picturing Romney as the Popeye cartoon character J. Wellington Wimpy whose catch phrase was "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."

Sorry, Mitt. We want payment -- that is, clear information -- upfront before we let you have at the tax code.

OK, Romney has released a few details in public comments as he campaigns. He's said that he would keep the individual mortgage interest and charitable contribution deductions, as well as the health care write-off for employers.

Of course he's saying that now, pre-election. Those two individual tax deductions are among the most popular even though they aren't claimed by the vast majority of voters, er, taxpayers. Most people claim the standard deduction, and those two must be itemized.

But itemizing taxpayers tend to make a bit more money and because they usually have more to lose, they tend to go to the polls. No politician wants to make them mad.

And all three of those deductions are on the list of the most-costly tax breaks. If you don't eliminate or at least limit them, it's going to be very hard to provide tax cuts without raising taxes elsewhere.

Do I sound cynical? Well, just a little.

But even the most diehard optimist who owns multiple pairs of rose-colored glasses has to view Romney's reluctance to reveal dollar details on his tax plan as political maneuvering.

I know, they all do it. But asking us to trust him until he gets in office? With our future tax bills? Really?

Do any of you have kids? Then you've heard this line of, uh, logic before. And I'm sure you didn't fall for it then.

Don't fall for it now either from someone who wants to run our country and determine what taxes we pay.

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