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Romney: My tax plan 'can't be scored'

March 7, 2012: 2:35 PM ET

Like every Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney wants to cut a whole bunch of taxes.

Just two of the more expensive provisions would reduce revenue by more than $3.4 trillion over a decade. Meanwhile, the campaign, and the candidate, insist that the plan is "budget neutral."

So one would expect something of a plan to fill in that huge revenue hole created by the tax cuts.

The campaign says the tax cuts will spur economic growth, and that will fill in some of the revenue gap. And it says the candidate is prepared to limit deductions, exemptions and credits in order to finish the job.

Here's the thing: Romney hasn't said how fast he expects the economy to grow under his plan. And he hasn't laid out which tax breaks he is willing to curtail -- crucial details if his deficit neutral claim is to be believed.

This lack of detail hasn't gone unnoticed -- and deficit hawks have cautioned that the plan is incomplete. The Washington Post wrote a nice story about the anomaly under the headline "Romney tax plan relies on missing details."

This morning, Romney pretty much acknowledged his critics have it right.

"I haven't laid out all the details of how we're going to deal with each one of the deductions and exemptions," Romney said on CNBC. "I think it's kind of interesting for the groups to try and score it, because frankly, it can't be scored, because those kinds of details are going to have to be worked out with Congress."

Romney's reasoning here amounts to a punt. Of course the details will have to be worked out with Congress. The entire plan will have to be worked out with Congress.

What Romney has done here is propose all the easy stuff, while avoiding any hard choices. Everyone loves tax cuts. Nobody loves adding to the deficit. And by not explaining himself, Romney gets to tout both on the campaign trail.

And while we're on the subject of punts, Romney danced around the issue of carried interest again on Wednesday. Dan Primack over at Fortune has a nice breakdown. Both Primack and I have pressed the campaign on this issue and have yet to receive a straight answer.

Here's the CNBC video:

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About This Author
Charles Riley
Charles Riley
Reporter, CNNMoney

Charles Riley lives and works in Hong Kong, where he covers markets, economics and other high-impact stories across Asia. He previously worked for CNNMoney in New York and CNN in Washington. He tweets @CRrileyCNN

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