Mitt Romney appeared at a private fundraiser in Palm Beach, Florida last night and he thought he was alone. But the press could hear his remarks from the sidewalk below the residence. As a result, we now know several things that Romney will promise his donors in private but will not discuss on the campaign trail.

For example, he has a plan to offset the cost of further lowering the marginal income tax rate on rich people.

“I’m going to probably eliminate for high income people the second home mortgage deduction,” Romney said, adding that he would also likely eliminate deductions for state income and property taxes as well.

“By virtue of doing that, we’ll get the same tax revenue, but we’ll have lower rates,” Romney explained. “The nice thing about lower rates is that small businesses not (sic) get to keep a larger share of what they’re earning and plow it back in to hire more people and expand their business.”

This would impact people who have a second home that they do not rent out. But the law as it currently stands only allows you to deduct mortgage payments on $1.1 million of debt, so anyone with more than that in mortgage debt would not be impacted. Yet, all of us would lose the right to avoid double taxation on our local, state, and property taxes. There’s a reason Romney will only propose this privately.

He has a plan for winning back Latinos, and it might surprise you:

Predicting that immigration would become a much larger issue in the fall campaign, Romney told his audience, “We have to get Hispanic voters to vote for our party,” warning that recent polling showing Hispanics breaking in huge percentages for President Obama “spells doom for us.”

Romney said the GOP must offer its own policies to woo Hispanics, including a “Republican DREAM Act,” referring to the legislative proposal favored by Democrats that would offer illegal immigrants a limited path to citizenship, to give Hispanic voters a real choice between parties.

That’s actually a very poor description of what the DREAM Act would do. The DREAM Act would offer citizenship to students who graduate from high school and have no criminal record. It’s designed for the children of illegal immigrants who came to this country through no choice of their own and grew up here and excelled in their studies. It’s a bill that Mitt Romney has promised to veto.

Indeed, the Democratic National Committee quickly responded to Romney’s remarks.

“If there had been doubt in anyone’s mind—least of all, Hispanics in America, that Mitt Romney’s far-right views on immigration would make him the most extreme presidential nominee in recent memory, his statement [Saturday] that he would veto the DREAM Act if he were president is appalling,” said Juan Sepluveda, the DNC’s Senior Advisor for Hispanic Affairs. “This piece of legislation has been supported by members of both parties.”

It’s not clear what a “Republican” DREAM Act would look like, but it appears to be one item on Romney’s Etch A Sketch agenda. Or, maybe, he was just telling his donors what they wanted to hear. That seems to be the case with the Department of Education because the following doesn’t even make any sense:

Asked about the fate of the Department of Education in a potential Romney administration, the former governor suggested it would also face a dramatic restructuring.
“The Department of Education: I will either consolidate with another agency, or perhaps make it a heck of a lot smaller. I’m not going to get rid of it entirely,” Romney said, explaining that part of his reasoning behind preserving the agency was to maintain a federal role in pushing back against teachers’ unions. Romney added that he learned in his 1994 campaign for Senate that proposing to eliminate the agency was politically volatile.

At that time, Sen. Ted Kennedy ran ads against Romney — then a political neophyte — accusing him of being uncaring for saying he wished to eliminate the agency.

Romney told the audience here tonight (along with the Weekly Standard in an interview in early April) that that experience remains fresh in his mind. It’s contributed to his caution in publicly naming federal agencies and programs he would eliminate or dramatically curtail.

This is the Mitt Romney we have come to know and loathe. He says he would maintain the Department of Education mainly in order to use it as a weapon against teacher’s unions. While he might otherwise be inclined to eliminate the department entirely, he’s learned that it isn’t a politically popular policy and he certainly isn’t going to repeat the mistake of being honest about his feelings with the voting public. Maybe he will consolidate it with another agency (Homeland Security? Agriculture? Veteran’s Affairs?), but he will certainly gut its funding. Isn’t it good to know that Romney is such a visionary on the federal role in education?

One agency he was willing to put on the chopping block (at least, in private before high-rolling donors) is the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“I’m going to take a lot of departments in Washington, and agencies, and combine them. Some eliminate, but I’m probably not going to lay out just exactly which ones are going to go,” Romney said. “Things like Housing and Urban Development, which my dad was head of, that might not be around later. But I’m not going to actually go through these one by one. What I can tell you is, we’ve got far too many bureaucrats. I will send a lot of what happens in Washington back to the states.”

If you were wondering if Ann Romney was offended when Hillary Rosen pointed out that she hasn’t worked a day in her life, don’t worry:

“It was my early birthday present for someone to be critical of me as a mother, and that was really a defining moment, and I loved it,” Mrs. Romney said.

Presumably, Ann Romney would love more birthday presents.

Finally, there’s a reason for me to continue to do what I do:

Romney also described his media strategy going forward, including his views on so-called “earned media,” and how the campaign might pair surrogates with complimentary news outlets.

He said his campaign had been well-covered by Fox News, but that Fox was watched by “the true believers,” and that he knew he would have to reach out to a broader audience in order to win over independents and women voters that will decide the election in November. He painted a picture of a media landscape in which liberal voices won out on television, but conservatives were strongest online.

“We are behind when it comes to commentators on TV. They tend to be liberal,” Romney said. “Where we are ahead or even is (sic) on twitter and on the Internet.”

So, to recap, Mitt Romney has come up with another tax proposal that won’t cost himself a dime but will nail the rest of us. He’s going to try to pretend that he never promised to veto the DREAM Act. He’s going to use the Department of Education to attack teacher’s unions since he can’t think of anything else worthwhile for them to do and he’s too cowardly to destroy the department entirely. He’s going to eliminate HUD. He and his wife are very excited about the fact that people are talking about his wife’s idleness. And he thinks he has an advantage online.

Got that?

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