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PRIMARY 2012

Romney: I'm not for tax cuts for the rich

'Lower rates equal more jobs, he says'

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told an audience in Plymouth yesterday that he wants to lower tax rates but isn't looking for the wealthiest to pay less.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, said he will release a plan this fall to cut personal and corporate tax rates while simplifying the tax code. He said he favors eliminating some loopholes and credits and possibly decreasing the number of tax brackets.

But Romney said he does not want to cut taxes for the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans.

"I'm not for tax cuts for the rich," Romney said. "The rich can take care of themselves. I want to get America working again. And so I want to make sure that whatever we do in the tax code, we're not giving a windfall to the very wealthy."

Financial disclosure forms filed last week suggest Romney has between $85 million and $264 million in assets. His campaign said his wealth can be described more accurately as between $190 million and $250 million.

Romney took questions from voters at a forum at the Common Man restaurant in Plymouth.

When asked why he did not support raising taxes on the rich, Romney said some businesses - including the Common Man - pay a personal income tax.

"If we raise taxes on wealthy people, that means businesses see their taxes go up," he said. "I don't want to raise taxes on employers. Certainly not now."

Romney also argued that raising taxes on the rich would not solve an underlying budgetary imbalance. He pointed to an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal that said taxing top earners at 100 percent would not yield enough money to run the government.

Instead of raising taxes, he said, the government should cut spending and promote economic growth.

When a woman asked why he opposed raising the cap on income subject to Social Security taxes, Romney responded that he believes taxes are already too high. He said spending by all levels of government has grown from 27 percent of the national economy when John F. Kennedy was president to 37 percent today.

"We're only inches away from no longer being a free nation, a free economy, that is," Romney said. "My view is no, no, no, you're taking too much already. I do not want to raise taxes."

But he said Social Security must be reformed for future recipients who are in their early 50s and younger. Romney offered two ideas: gradually raising the qualifying retirement age and using progressive indexing, which slows the increase in benefit levels for high earners by tying the increase to the price index, rather than the quicker-growing wage index now in use.

(Karen Langley can be reached at 369-3316 or klangley@cmonitor.com.)

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