(CNN) – Mitt Romney detailed with fresh specificity this week how he would pay for large tax cuts he's proposed for all Americans, though his campaign says the suggestions were merely options and not a firm look into what policies he would seek to enact as president.
In the interview with CNN affiliate KDVR on Monday, Romney began by offering the broad strokes of his tax plan that he's been touting for months: lowering rates for all Americans and limiting deductions for higher income tax payers.
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Pressed for more specifics, Romney detailed a plan which would cap tax deductions at $17,000.
"You could do something, for instance, as an option you could say everybody's going to get up to a $17,000 deduction, and you can use your charitable deduction, your home mortgage deduction, or others – a healthcare deduction, and you can fill that bucket, if you will, that $17,000 bucket that way. And higher income people might have a lower number," Romney said.
Those details are the first time the candidate has suggested such a plan, though in the interview with KDVR he did not specifically say he would push for such a measure as president.
He also offered another option he said could be achieved with Congress.
"You could do it by the same method that Bowles-Simpson did it which is limiting certain deductions, but that's the sort of thing you do with Congress," Romney said. "The key thing is bring down rates, broaden the base to encourage small business to hire more people."
Asked whether Romney was revealing a new part of his tax plan, Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said the GOP nominee was offering only an example of how he would achieve his goals of cutting taxes on middle class Americans.
"Governor Romney's tax reform plan will jumpstart economic growth, cut the tax burden on the middle-class, and lower tax rates across-the-board," Henneberg wrote. "He will pursue revenue and distributional-neutrality in reforming the tax code. There are a range of policy options, and Gov. Romney referenced one illustrative example, to achieve these goals."
Romney's tax plan calls for 20% cuts to current Bush-era income tax rates, a repeal of the Alternative Minimum Tax and the estate tax, and a move to make investment income tax free for those earning less than $200,000.
To pay for the plan, Romney points to the deductions he would limit and other loopholes he would cut. However, he has long been vague on which provisions he would eliminate. Despite being pressed in multiple interviews to name specifics, Romney maintains he would negotiate those details with Congress. Citing his experience as governor, Romney recently stressed the importance of working "across the aisle" when it comes to outlining policy.
"You work together with them, but you don't hand them a complete document and say, "Here, take this or leave it." Look, leadership is not a take it or leave it thing. We've seen too much of that in Washington," Romney said in an interview with "60 Minutes" last week.
Democrats, however, point to a Tax Policy Center report released in August that determined Romney's plan would provide large tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans while increasing the tax burden on the lower and middle classes.
And after Romney made his comments Wednesday, Obama's campaign posted a response on its website saying Romney's $17,000 cap would mostly be taken up by health care deductions in a family of four, meaning little room was left for other claims.
"In fact, health premiums alone cost $15,745 this year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. So if a family started there, Romney's plan would instantly wipe out nearly all other deductions-including mortgages, charitable contributions, and state and local taxes," the website stated.
A spokesman with the president's re-election campaign said that while Romney's latest comments may signal some specifics about this tax plan, the GOP nominee's policies would still spark a hike in taxes.
"Regardless of the twists and turns, Governor Romney has never been able to explain how he will pay for his $5 trillion tax plan without raising middle-class taxes. In fact, today's proposal suggests a plan even more generous to high-income taxpayers than the Tax Policy Center assumed – because it only caps certain deductions rather than eliminating a broader set of deductions and exclusions entirely – and would thus require even larger tax increases on the middle class than previously understood," campaign spokesman Adam Fetcher said in a statement.