By Bernie Becker - 10/04/12 05:59 PM EDT
Democrats, Reid also said, had been clear about how they wanted to proceed — allow tax rates to rise for the wealthiest as part of a deficit-reduction deal that included both tax increases and spending cuts.
For his part, Romney stressed over and over that he would offset that rate cut by rolling back tax preferences, and that his plan would neither hurt the middle class nor be a boon for the wealthy.
“I’m not looking for a $5 trillion tax cut,” Romney said Wednesday. “What I’ve said is I won’t put in place a tax cut that adds to the deficit.”
But the former Massachusetts governor also declined to specify which tax breaks might be on the chopping block to help ensure that his tax plan wouldn’t increase the debt.
Romney has started to try and downplay how much of a cut in taxes voters would receive under his plan, and floated a plan this week to cap itemized deductions.
That idea would mostly hit high-income households, which are the most likely to itemize, but analysts have also said it would not be nearly enough money on its own to offset the size of Romney’s tax cuts.
Reid, meanwhile, has long been on Romney’s case over his tax returns, even claiming that he had been told that Romney didn't pay any taxes for a decade. Romney has since released returns and information from accountants asserting that he paid at least a 13 percent rate since 1990.
The majority leader has also latched on to recent reports suggesting that Romney, a former private-equity executive, had taken advantage of offshore tax techniques.
Romney has also gotten pushback from some commentators on the right for not being forthcoming on what tax breaks could be on the line in his plan.
But the GOP nominee and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), his running mate, have said that they want to work with lawmakers to hammer that out.
On Wednesday, Romney also pushed back on the Democratic plan to allow Bush-era tax rates to rise for the highest earners, saying that would not only hurt the economy but would also not make much of a dent in the deficit.