(CNN) – President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney have widely different beliefs on taxes, and it is not clear how either plan would work, according to a CNN panel Sunday with chief political correspondent Candy Crowley on "State of the Union."
Grover Norquist, president of the conservative group Americans for Tax Reform, said Romney's plan to lower marginal tax rates by lowering deductions and exemptions was in line with Norquist's "taxpayer protection pledge," which opposes income tax increases. Lowering rates across the board by 20%, said Norquist, was in line with what presidents Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy did.
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Norquist also claimed Romney, like Reagan and Kennedy, aimed his tax cuts to be revenue-neutral through economic growth with job creation and simplifying the tax code. That growth, said Norquist, would create revenue for the government.
Norquist also said Obama had changed his stance on taxes since 2008, when he promised he would not raise the taxes of anyone making less than $250,000. Norquist claimed Obama has broken that promise "about 20 times," naming the Affordable Care Act as an example of Obama willing to raise the non-income taxes of people making below the quarter-million mark. The Supreme Court ruled in June that the individual mandate in Obama's health law could stand if viewed as a tax.
Joining Norquist on the panel was Bill Burton, senior strategist for the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action, USA Today Washington bureau chief Susan Page, and CNN national political correspondent Jim Acosta.
Burton disagreed that Romney's tax policies were similar to Reagan's policies, pointing out that Reagan was willing to raise taxes. Instead, said Burton, Romney was closer to the tax policies of President George W. Bush. Romney's belief, said Burton, is that by cutting the taxes of the wealthiest, there will be a "trickle-down" to everyone else. Not only would that not work, Burton said, but it would instead result in middle-class taxes increasing.
Acosta said Romney has yet to explain how he would pay for his tax cuts and has refused multiple times to be specific on which deductions and loopholes he would eliminate.
Page said voters cared less about taxes and more about which candidate would be able to create jobs, and that Obama "would be in a better position" if he were more specific on his plans for tax reform and job creation.
Burton and Norquist also clashed over Thursday's vice presidential debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan. Norquist slammed Biden's performance, calling him "rude [and] abusive" toward Ryan. He said Biden "[acted] like a 14-year-old."
Burton noted it was not a good sign for Republicans if they were only focused on Biden's theatrics and not on the substance of the debate. Calling Ryan's performance "laughable," Burton criticized Ryan for claiming American troops should be patrolling areas in Afghanistan currently under the watch of Afghan soldiers.
Page said Biden did what Democrats needed him to do, which was to stop the panic among the party stemming from Obama's poor performance at the first presidential debate, but doubted that the vice presidential matchup would matter much. What matters much more, said Page, is the second presidential debate Tuesday and whether Obama is more energized and aggressive against Romney.
Acosta also briefly touched on the state of the campaign, saying how Romney appeared to be more confident on the campaign trail and how the discipline of his campaign was helping in the final weeks before the election. A senior Romney adviser in speaking with Acosta pushed back on the claim Romney is moving toward the center, instead emphasizing Romney's commitment to bipartisanship while still being a conservative.
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