Mitt Romney: Slash Amtrak, PBS Funding, But Defense Cuts And Middle Class Tax Cuts Off The Table
WASHINGTON — In an interview with Fortune Magazine that was published on Wednesday morning, Mitt Romney gave a bit more detail than normal about how he would fulfill his promise to get the nation on track towards fiscal balance.
But the proposals he laid out largely ducked the so-called “painful” choices that experts insist must be made, and seemed to be drawn from rosy assumptions about the immediate political and economic future. At one point, Romney was asked to respond to a Tax Policy Center analysis that concluded he would need to take away tax benefits that primarily help the middle class if he wanted his broader proposals to be deficit neutral.
“They made garbage assumptions and they reached a garbage conclusion,” he responded, noting that he has never called for reducing the deductions middle-income taxpayers enjoy on home mortgage interest, charitable giving and health care coverage (he would eliminate them for the rich).
But that only further highlighted his campaign’s unwillingness to put out a detailed plan of its own. And it raised again the question of how his overall tax plan — which extends the Bush tax cuts, reduces individual rates by 20 percent, eliminates taxes on investment income for middle- and lower income taxpayers, repeals the alternative minimum tax and gets rid of the estate tax — wouldn’t balloon the deficit.
Romney’s campaign has insisted that they can trim federal spending enough to achieve fiscal balance, but in the Fortune interview, the items Romney pinpointed appeared to be low-hanging fruit.
Romney identified subsidies for Amtrak, PBS, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities as things he would eliminate. The government spends $444 million a year on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (the parent organization of PBS); Amtrak received $1.56 billion in federal funding in 2010, with $1.3 billion in stimulus funds; while the National Endowment of the Arts lists the current level of federal funding at approximately $146 million.