<html> <head><style type ="text/css">body { font-family: "Bloomberg Prop Unicode I", Verdana, sans-serif; font-size:125%; letter-spacing: -0.3pt; color: #FF9F0F; background-color: #000000; text-align: left; } p {line-height: 1.25em; max-width:900px; width:expression(document.body.clientWidth > 900? "900px": "auto" );} h1, h2, h3 { text-align: left; font-weight: normal; color: #FFFFFF; } h1 { font-size: 130%; } h2 { font-size: 115%; } h3 { font-size: 100%; } #bb-style { font-size: 90%; max-width:900px; width:expression(document.body.clientWidth > 900? "900px": "auto" ); } b, strong { font-weight: bold; } i, em { color: #FEC54A; } pre { font-family: "Andale Mono", "Monaco", "Lucida Console"; letter-spacing: -0.3pt; line-height: 1.25em; } table { border: 0; font-size: 90%; width: 100%; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; } td, tr { text-align: left; } td.numeric { text-align: right; } a:link { color:#53B2F5; text-decoration: none; } a:visited {color:#53B2F5} a:active {color:#53B2F5} a:hover {color:#53B2F5} </style> </head> <body> <p>By Francis Wilkinson</p> <p>Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida visited Bloomberg View today, where he displayed the charm, intellect and communication skills that have marked him as a rising star. Despite a wealth of political talent, however, there seemed little Rubio could do to make sense of the Mitt Romney campaign's tax plan.</p> <p>Asked which exemptions he personally would eliminate from the tax code in order to accommodate Romney's 20 percent across-the-board tax cut, Rubio instead spoke of the loopholes he would safeguard. They happen to be big ones: the home mortgage deduction, the charitable-giving deduction and the exclusion for health insurance. The mortgage interest deduction alone <a href="http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2011/03/28-mortgage-interest-deduction-pozen">costs</a> the U.S. Treasury almost $100 billion annually.</p> <p>Romney's whole plan is premised on the notion that loopholes would be eliminated in return for the lower tax rates. This, plus a near-magical dollop of economic growth, would lead to balanced budgets. Except there aren't enough loopholes in the tax code <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-12/the-final-word-on-mitt-romney-s-tax-plan.html">to compensate for the tax cuts</a> and there is little reason to suspect growth will rise sky-high on the strength of Romney's hot air. And even Romney says he doesn't want to do away with popular -- and costly -- tax deductions.</p> <p>In response to a question from Wolf Blitzer, Romney stated:</p> <blockquote><p>With regards to the deductions you describe, home mortgage interest deduction and charitable contributions, there will of course continue to be preferences for those types of expenses.</p></blockquote> <p>A vague commitment to continuing "preferences for those types of expenses" is hardly a commitment to anything at all. But if Romney seems squishy about details, it's not because he doesn't know how to communicate about <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-15/romney-s-tax-plan-secret-or-just-nonsensical-.html">numbers</a>. It's that the plan is exceedingly difficult to defend once specifics enter into the conversation.</p> <p>In today's meeting, Rubio was impressive on a broad array of topics, especially immigration. When it came to defending Romney's tax plan, however, he was as lost as Romney.</p> <p>(Francis Wilkinson is a member of the Bloomberg View editorial board.<a href="https://twitter.com/fdwilkinson"> Follow</a> him on Twitter. He will live-blog tonight's presidential debate at <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/">Bloomberg's politics section</a>.)</p> <p>Read more breaking commentary from Bloomberg View at the <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/view/the-ticker/">Ticker</a>.</p> </body> </html>