Blunt: Romney never said he'd slash taxes for working Americans

GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has never promised to slash taxes for working Americans, Sen. Roy Blunt said Sunday.

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The Missouri Republican said Romney's campaign vow to cut taxes across the board has always been qualified by the simultaneous elimination of other tax benefits – the net result being a much more modest bonus than the 20-percent cut Romney has trumpeted on the trail.

"That's what the governor's been saying all the time – it's what most Republicans have been saying all the time: Get the rate down [and] eliminate a lot of the intricacies of the tax code," Blunt said on CNN's "State of the Union" program.

When CNN's Candy Crowley asked, somewhat incredulously, "Hasn't [Romney] been campaigning on cutting taxes?," Blunt doubled down.

"No, no, no," Blunt said. "He has always said we're gonna lower the rate and we're gonna eliminate the complexity of the tax code. That's what he's said consistently.

"That doesn't mean that revenue would go down," Blunt added. "That would mean that people would have some sense that everybody's paying the same thing based on the same rules, both in the corporate structure and the individual structure."

Blunt's message that Romney is not promising to cut taxes might come as news to some voters. On the campaign trail, Romney has pushed an across-the-board tax cut of 20 percent, while stressing the importance of business tax breaks to spur new hiring.

But Romney this week raised plenty of eyebrows when he told voters in Ohio that his plan to overhaul the tax code would not result in a big tax cut for them.

"Don't be expecting a huge cut in taxes, because I'm also going to lower deductions and exemptions," he said at a campaign stop near Columbus. "But by bringing rates down, we'll be able to let small businesses keep more of their money so they can hire more people."

Romney has come under fire for the vagueness of his tax plan, which is concrete about the 20-percent cut but doesn't specify which loopholes it would close to offset the accompanying loss in revenues. Many analysts maintain that finding the trillions of dollars to replace those revenues would likely require sharp cuts to popular middle-class tax benefits, including things like charitable, college savings and mortgage-interest deductions.

Last month, the Tax Policy Center, a non-partisan policy shop, reported that a plan like Romney's – because it would eliminate such tax benefits – would lead to a tax increase for those earning less than $200,000 per year, while providing generous tax breaks for those earning more. The Romney campaign has disputed those findings.