Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on Friday declined to back a deficit-cutting plan offered by some GOP lawmakers that includes increased tax revenue while comparing the supercommittee process created to help balance the federal budget to a deal with the devil.
The former Massachusetts governor, who leads many polls in race for the GOP nomination, declined to endorse the proposal offered by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., that would raise revenue by limiting the tax breaks enjoyed by people who itemize their deductions, in exchange for lower overall tax rates for families at every income level.
A growing number of Republicans in Congress have said they would support a tax overhaul package that increases revenues if it is paired with significant spending cuts. But Romney said he was withholding his endorsement because he hadn't seen a specific proposal.
"I'm not going to sign up for it, of course, without reviewing it," Romney told radio host Hugh Hewitt. "I'd like to see us have lower tax rates, and have a broader base. And it sounds like their idea is looking for a way of doing that."
But he said he the home mortgage interest deduction needs to remain.
Romney told his New Hampshire audience that he disagrees with Democrats who want "a proposal to raise taxes a lot."
But he didn't go beyond that while speaking to members of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, and he took no questions from reporters, who were asked to leave the law firm that hosted the gathering before he left the building.
The congressional supercommittee has until Wednesday to produce a plan to cut deficits by at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years. Failure would trigger automatic, across-the-board cuts to the Pentagon and a wide variety of domestic programs beginning in 2013, an outcome Romney called "entirely unacceptable."
If the committee fails, "we have been fed a Faustian bargain," Romney told his audience. "We'll see hundreds of billions of dollars cut from our military at a time when the world is not a safe place."
Asked by an audience member what he would like to see the committee purpose, Romney said it should eliminate unnecessary programs such as the Obama administration's health care overhaul and return other programs, including Medicaid, back to the states. He also called in general terms for "making government itself slimmer" by reducing the number of federal employees and bringing their compensation in line with that of private sector workers.