Romney also said he would combine or eliminate a lot of federal agencies — perhaps even HUD, which his father, George Romney, once ran.
“I'm not going to actually go through these one by one,” Romney said. “What I can tell you is, we've got far too many bureaucrats. I will send a lot of what happens in Washington back to the states.”
President Obama’s campaign quickly latched on to Romney’s comments, and tried to connect them to its push to get the former Massachusetts governor to release more of his tax returns.
Both the president and Vice President Biden released their most recent tax returns on Friday, and Democrats have made Romney a key focus of their campaign to enact the “Buffett Rule,” the proposition that those making more than $1 million a year should pay a higher share of their wages in taxes than middle-class families.
In 2010, Romney paid just under 14 percent in taxes on more than $20 million in income.
“In order to fund his $5 trillion tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, he would make deep cuts in programs essential to the middle class like education and housing,” Ben LaBolt, an Obama campaign spokesman, said in a statement. “Throughout this campaign, Mitt Romney has tried to play by a different set of rules.”
But Romney’s campaign tried to downplay the candidate’s Sunday comments, saying he was tossing out ideas and not laying out policy proposals.
Andrea Saul, a Romney spokeswoman, also suggested that Democrats were trying to take the spotlight off the president’s own record on the job market and gas prices.
“While President Obama is interested only in offering excuses and blaming others for his failures, Governor Romney is discussing some of the ideas he has to tackle the big issues facing America,” Saul said in a statement.
Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, told reporters Monday that he wanted to hear more details about any potential Romney ideas to limit the mortgage interest deduction — including how higher income would be defined.
But Camp, a driving force behind GOP efforts to overhaul the tax code, stopped short of saying his panel would look to curtail the mortgage interest deduction in its tax reform efforts.
“I’m not prepared to say that that is something we’re going to look at,” said Camp, who also noted that he had discussed tax reform with Romney several times in recent months.
Camp and Ways and Means Republicans had significant influence over the tax reform framework included in the recently passed House GOP budget.
Some Democrats have said that the GOP proposals, which would implement two individual tax brackets of 10 percent and 25 percent, would require the elimination of tax breaks widely used by the middle and working class.
But Camp said that while policymakers would examine a broad range of tax deductions as they sought to revamp the tax code, not all preferences would have to be eliminated.
“You will be able to keep some,” Camp said.