Political Capital with John Harwood

Mitt Romney: Why I Didn't Like Flat Tax In '96


Today on "Street Signs," Mitt Romney explained to Erin Burnett and me why he took out ads opposing the flat tax in 1996. He thought the tax relief it provided the super-rich, couldn't be justified--politically or substantively.

That's a perfectly respectable position to take. Many Republicans, not to mention nearly all Democrats, have rejected various flat tax proposals on similar grounds. But some anti-tax activists within the GOP find that any justifications like that smack of class warfare.

No major Republican candidate is currently running on a flat income tax, though Mike Huckabee is pushing a flat consumption (sales) tax to replace the income tax altogether. So Romney's position itself won't immediately create an argument with other top rivals.

But activists will parse the candidates' words closely on tax policy, so reaction to Romney's stance bears watching. Another reason to tune into the CNBC-MSNBC-WSJ debate of Republican candidates on economic issues Oct 9 in Dearborn, Michigan.

Questions?  Comments?  Write to politicalcapital@cnbc.com.