MESA, Ariz. (AP) — Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on Wednesday called for 20 percent across-the-board cuts in personal income tax rates as part of a program to help the economy grow.
Under the proposal, the top tax rate would drop from 35 percent to 28 percent, and some popular breaks would be scaled back for upper-income taxpayers, although aides provided scant details.
“We want middle-income Americans to be the place we focus our help, because it’s middle-income Americans that have been hurt by this Obama economy,” Romney said as he outlined parts of his plan in a campaign appearance in Arizona, one of two states holding a primary Tuesday. Michigan is the other.
Romney did not propose cutting marginal tax rates in a book-length jobs plan he released last year. Now facing a challenge from rival Rick Santorum, Romney is working to court conservative voters who have been reluctant to embrace his candidacy.
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Romney’s proposal sharpened his differences with President Barack Obama, who favors allowing tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush to expire on higher incomes.
Romney also proposed changes to raise the Social Security retirement age for younger workers and curtail annual benefit increases. He would also allow younger workers to choose a voucher to pay for private insurance instead of participating in traditional Medicare.
Romney said he plans to pay for the tax cuts by limiting some of the popular deductions and exemptions for charitable giving, savings, mortgage interest and other areas. Campaign officials would not explain what deductions and exemptions Romney would limit or who would be affected, though they said the changes will be targeted at the wealthiest households.
Romney said his plan would not raise the federal deficit because economic growth and more tax revenue from ending deductions and exemptions would pay for it. His aides didn’t offer specifics.
“For high-income folks, we’re going to cut back on that so we make sure that the top 1 percent keeps paying the share that they’re paying or more,” Romney said.