October 14th, 2012
04:25 PM ET
10 years ago

CNN Panel tackles tax policies, the VP debate and state of the campaigns

(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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Filed under: 2012 • Bill Burton • Grover Norquist • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Gurgyl

    Obama wants to raise only on upper class leaving middle class relief while Mitt wants to give tax cuts to only top 1%. There you go again. Yes, on Obama because I am middle lass.

    October 14, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  2. 2020

    Grover Norquist, you abuse the American system. Unelected held the whole country in hostage.

    you should be locked up and throw away the key, and free Americans from slavery

    October 14, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  3. 2020

    Grover Norquist like Romney, Pathetic liar. !!!! by 100X

    October 14, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  4. Thomas

    Koch brothers warn employees of layoffs if Obama reelected .

    Fixing the outcome.

    October 14, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  5. GI Joe

    206 accomplishments for this president. ha ha ha ha ha ha

    Jim Acosta lies as much as Romney and Ryan. Tooo bad.

    October 14, 2012 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  6. Valar Morghulis

    Romney's plan amounts to smoke and mirrors. Leading economists have run the numbers. Romney's plan leaves a huge gap in his supposedly revenue neutral plan. Who do you think is going to make up the difference? The middle class will have to pay to give the 1% even more breaks.

    Any average working person who thinks Romney would be a good choice is a fool!

    October 14, 2012 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  7. lisasc

    I don't understand why Joe Biden acted like child in the debate. He could have made the same points with none of the the hysteria.

    October 14, 2012 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  8. Romney Makes Me Dizzy

    Romney is like a merry go round that will not stop. He has no idea where he has been, where he is going, what he really thinks or believes.

    October 14, 2012 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  9. NameJoan smith

    I hope candy will insist on no interruptions on the tuesday debate. I have to say as independent voter I was totally turned off by bidens interruptions!

    October 14, 2012 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  10. zoonta

    My son (15 years old) plays Lemonade Tycoon on his Iphone and he even knows about profit and loss. Maybe Obama and Biden should play this game for a week and then they might know how to run a business. Democrats had control of the Congress, Senate and Presidency for two full years and could have past any law to fix this problem. They failed!!!!! Democrats added 6 trillion dollars to the national debt (http://www.usdebtclock.org/). Wake up people. I own a small business. It’s called a balance sheet and profit and loss statement. You can’t keep spending more than you take in. Democrats are hiding the crash that is about to happen in December. Our financial system will collapse in December. Fiscal Cliff – look it up. I can’t believe that so many Americans are so fooled by a good speaking president. He has failed. WAKE UP! We need someone, anyone, to take control of this company called America.
    Income – Taxes, tariff duties and leading money- not borrowing money
    Expenses – Military, helping the poor, space program, federal roads and bridges………………….
    It’s not that difficult. The problem is favors- raising over $1 Billion dollars to become president. Everyone should follow Buddy Roemer’s idea and only except $100.00 dollars per SS# to run for president. You get $100.00 dollars from 1 million REAL Americans and that should be enough to run a great campaign. This could be an equal playing ground for ANYONE that would want to run for president.

    October 14, 2012 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  11. CBR

    Interesting panel. Mr. Norquist on a panel is surprising. For him to mention President Kennedy is remarkable. He certainly does think a lot of himself and his Republican colleagues have signed on to his pledge; It is very worrisome that people will sign any pledge stating what they will not do because events in any country change rapidly and require our politicians to think on their feet. Sometimes they have very little advance notice. Should we be voting for people who signed this pledge to a man who has his own political agenda.

    The final push is now on. Lo and behold we received an email from Speaker John Boehner telling us what the Republicans will do in Congress. Amazing that he had two years to do something and to work with members of the opposition to help this country move forward. He and his leadership team did virtually nothing and you add that to the Republican leadership in the Senate which sat on their hands and you have a very large number of people who received a salary and did not really work hard enough to earn it. We paid and paid with nothing to show for it.

    Perhaps CNN would like to talk about the whining that went on and still is going on. No one will take responsibility of the lack of congressional action. No one will take any responsibility for the 47% statement which was not just a poor choice of words. The President was not ready for the first debate. He made a rookie error of not arriving in Denver a day or two earlier. Mr. Ryan tried hard to move the debate to his own topics. His hand dog look and half smile were interesting. Kind of like a 20 or 30 year old child who is not quite buying what his parents are saying. He also wants his own way and does not think that compromise is valuable. Mr. Romney is now a foreign policy wonk. He does not recognize the difference between people who are no longer with the State Dept. and those who actually work there. He is being very disrespectful to the Secretary of State. He is taking info garnered at the Issa hearing in Congress instead of asking to get a full briefing on the subject of LIbya which by the way he can get. That is a very good look into just how Mr. Romney will handle foreign policy. He will speak first and listen later.

    October 14, 2012 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |

    Norquest should be hung for treason and all that signed his Fascist pledge!

    October 14, 2012 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  13. Gary Burns

    Seriouly? CNN puts together an expert panel and includes Grover Norquist and Bill Burton on it? Limit the panelists to people who can at least discuss a topic without lying and then your panel's conclusions may have some credibility. Whether you agree with Paul Ryan or not on taxes, at least he doesn't lie to make his case.

    October 14, 2012 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  14. James L.

    Does anyone hear the insanity in Norquist's words? Revenue neutral? Is he crazy? The reason we are in trouble is because of the LACK of revenue to pay our bills! Why do people listen to this maniac?

    October 14, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  15. Jean2


    What is hppening to OUR democratic form of goverment, wheh a person, not elected, can get canidates to sing and obey his contract?? And tnen what is thought to be legimate media will cater to him and give voice to his wshes..

    October 14, 2012 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  16. GI Joe

    When Robme snickers, smirks, or giggles, he's lying. I've noticed it in the first debate and when he's being interviewed on TV. It's a nervous fake laugh to cover his lies.

    October 14, 2012 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  17. Morning1Su,

    We are praying for President Obama. He is a truthful compassionate, human being. He knows Mitt Romney is unworthy of being the President of the United States, but a gentleman as he is, did not want to cut him into pieces on stage. Now the President knows Mitt Romney will do anything to be elected as President. Not because Mitt Romney feels righteousness or he feels in his heart for the poor and middle class. Remember Americans what Mitt Romney said about the 47%. He always apologizes when he has his hand in the cookie jar and thinks the American people will forget all his selfish, self centered ways. We do not forget. Romney thinks he is going to win as President. That is how stupid he thinks the American people are. He is smirking because he thinks he can con an entire nation to voting for him. Can you imagine what life will be if Romney becomes President? He lies and makes false promises and want people to buy into his propaganda ideas. I will tell you this if Ohio votes President Obama into office, my husband and I will buy a house in OHIO. My husband and I are retiring and am thinking of moving to a decent, honest place and it will be Ohio. God bless President Obama and may the angels help and guide your way.

    October 14, 2012 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  18. Dan5404

    Norquist is the biggest enemy of this country the GOP has, and is not a government or campagn representative, so why is he even invited?

    October 14, 2012 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  19. Larry L

    It's laughable how Romney tries to characterize his "plan" as something other than the tired old trickle-down economics Republicans always preach but has never been shown to work. Our economy must be grown by the middle class – not the fat cats.

    The Bush debacle was a ridiculous cut & spend economy with little regulation of the financial district and huge defense spending. Say... that sounds like Romney's ideas... How did that turn out? Romney gives us no specifics of his plan because he's lying about Medicare and Social Security. The math won't work otherwise. He'll trash both programs as he panders to Wall Street.

    October 14, 2012 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  20. Trevor

    Although he was a little giggly I believe Joe Biden DId a MUCH better job than Ryan

    October 14, 2012 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  21. Indy2016

    The CNN fact checkers need to be fact checked themselves. At the end of the Biden/Ryan debate, CNN fact checker concluded that Biden's statement that Romney wanted the auto industry to go bankrupt was false. The fact is that Romney opposed using government funds to help the auto go through a managed bankruptcy. Many analysts believed that the auto industry would not have survived if it had relied on private investment for rescue. It's an issue that will continue to dogg Romney in Ohio and Michigan, where numerous auto parts suppliers benefited from the survival of the Detroit Three automakers. Biden 's statement was not false, CNN fact Checker.

    October 15, 2012 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  22. bj

    If Joe Biden had been a Republican, what he did would have been great! Joe Biden was great and for you pundits who say he makes mistakes, I strongly disagree with you. He stands on the side of the truth and he has never told one lie, like some of those other folks. Obama was taken off guard because he probably couldn't believe that someone could like that much. Romney told 27 lies in 38 minutes. Why aren't you talking about that? Is this unbiased news or coverage. And by the way, your polls don't include me or anyone that I know. But if they did the Republican Party would claim they were biased or a fraud just like the jobs report.

    October 15, 2012 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  23. enuff

    Why didn't Norquist also say the obvious comparison between Kennedy and Reagan? The both were shot while in office. That does not mean Romney deserves to be in office; Romney is not presidential material and should not be compared.

    October 15, 2012 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  24. J.V.Hodgson

    Norquist managed not to answer your question Candy and the words change and its important.
    1) This 20 % cut on income tax and corporate tax rates. Does that mean a 20 % reduction of all taxable income band rates or simply what accountants consider the " marginal rate" = the 35 % rate only.
    2) There is not a single economist or more importantly the Tax Policy Centre that will tell you that the income tax cut cost can be offset by allowance elimination savings. QED, That is deficit / debt increasing.
    3) The corporate tax cut as the previous Bush administration and the Bowles Simpson commission noted can be covered cost wise by eliminating corporate tax loopholes and tax break elimination eg to oil companies.
    Lumping loophole and tax break elimination into the income tax debate as Norquist did is obfuscating the debate.
    Re- 2 above the TPC did the sums assuming The Romney plan eliminated all tax allowances in the "income tax "arena, and that would be a tax cost increase to the middle class. If he leaves those allowances available to the $200 k as they say that gets to be even bigger deficit /debt increase.
    When Republicans claim Biden lost because he smiled and gestured too much and was rude it means they could not claim a win on substance.They lost the VP debate, and the polls simply reflect An American trait in elections to place performance and acting over substance when watching these debates it is very sad.

    October 15, 2012 02:07 am at 2:07 am |
  25. JesusC

    Avoid WEINERS (Romeny/Ryan)at all costs....they usually get their butts kicked just like in their younger days..GOP, you can't deny your candidates are cowardly, panzy worms.There is NO way America is putting those two wet noodles into office....O/B all the way, again.

    October 15, 2012 03:57 am at 3:57 am |