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Romney: Lower tax rate 'the right way to encourage economic growth'

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President Obama’s campaign immediately pounced after Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who released his own 2011 tax returns Friday afternoon, said he thought it was fair that his effective 14.1 percent federal income tax rate was lower than someone earning $50,000 per year because “it’s the right way to encourage economic growth.”

Mr. Romney was asked on CBS’ “60 Minutes” if it was fair that the 14 percent he paid on $20 million of investments last year — the capital gains rate — is lower than the rate for someone who makes $50,000.

“It is a low rate,” Mr. Romney replied. “And one of the reasons why the capital gains tax rate is lower is because capital has already been taxed once at the corporate level, as high as 35 percent.”

When pressed whether he thought it was “fair,” Romney said yes.

“Yeah, I — I think it’s the right way to encourage economic growth — to get people to invest, to start businesses, to put people to work,” he said.

R. Bradford Malt, the lead trustee on the Romneys’ blind trusts, said Friday that the Romneys’ average of annual “effective federal personal income tax rates” between 1990 and 2009 was just more than 20 percent, and the lowest rate was 13.66 percent. Mr. Malt said the Romneys even limited their deduction for charitable contributions last year in order to “conform with the governor’s statement in August … that he paid at least 13 percent in each of the last 10 years.”

Mr. Obama’s team immediately pounced on the “60 Minutes” comments.

“Unfortunately for Romney, independent economists don’t agree that refusing to ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share and over-taxing middle class families will promote economic growth or job creation — it’ll lead to endless deficits,” campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said. “The American people already learned that lesson the hard way over the last decade. President Obama is fighting to ensure that millionaires like Mitt Romney pay at least the same tax rate as middle-class families.”


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