The Corner

Is Romney Switching Positions on Flat Tax?

In 1996, Mitt Romney was so passionately opposed to the flat tax that he took out an ad in the Boston Globe to criticize Steve Forbes’ flat tax proposal. “The Forbes tax isn’t a flat tax at all — it’s a tax cut for fat cats!” Romney, labeling himself a “concerned citizen,” wrote.  

Looking at Romney’s record for the Presidential White Paper series, the Club for Growth noted Romney’s opposition to the flat tax specifically:

 His strident opposition to the flat tax is most curious and difficult to explain since Romney wasn’t a political candidate at the time. In 1996, he ran a series of newspaper ads in Boston, New Hampshire, and Iowa denouncing the 17% flat tax proposed by then presidential candidate Steve Forbes as a “tax cut for fat cats.”   In 2007, Romney continued to oppose the flat tax with harsh language, calling the tax “unfair.”

But in Plymouth, N.H., today, Romney made a statement that suggested he might be changing his position. “The proposals that I’ll be putting out this fall will talk about bringing our tax rates down, both at the corporate level and the individual level, simplifying the tax codes, perhaps with fewer brackets. The idea of one bracket alone would be even better in some respects,” Romney said.

He went on to stress that he didn’t want to provide tax cuts to the rich (which seems to have been his main concern about a flat tax back in the day), but it’s hard to see how “the idea of one bracket alone” is anything other than a flat tax. Video:

Among the other candidates, Jon Huntsman implemented a flat tax of 5 percent in Utah, Newt Gingrich has expressed support for a near-flat or an optional flat tax in the past, and Michele Bachmann is at least open to a flat tax.

Katrina Trinko — Katrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...

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