Romney to Obama: ‘No Idea What You're Talking About’ on Tax Breaks for Outsourcing

By Susan Jones | October 4, 2012 | 9:04am EDT

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's uses his hands to make a point during the first presidential debate with President Barack Obama at the University of Denver, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

( – “Right now, you can actually take a deduction for moving a plant overseas,” President Barack Obama said at Wednesday night’s debate in Denver.  “I think most Americans would say that doesn’t make sense.”

It doesn’t make sense, Romney agreed:

“Look, I've been in business for 25 years. I have no idea what you're talking about. I maybe need to get a new accountant.”

Moderator Jim Lehrer tried to change topics: “Let’s--”

But Romney continued: “But -- but the idea that you get a break for shipping jobs overseas is simply not the case.”

Senate Democrats this year tried unsuccessfully to pass a bill that would give businesses a tax incentive to bring jobs back to America.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), sponsor of the "Bring Jobs Home Act" (S. 3364), said in July that her bill would “end a tax giveaway that rewards companies that ship jobs overseas, and also provide a tax cut for U.S. companies that move jobs and business activity back to America from another country.”

But an explanation on Stabenow’s website tells the full story: “Right now, the cost of moving personnel and company operations to a new location is defined as a business expense that qualifies for a tax deduction. Senator Stabenow's legislation would no longer allow this deduction for companies that move jobs and business activity outside of the U.S.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) was among the Republicans who spoke against the bill:

“Simply put, this bill is misleading,” Hatch said in July. “Its supporters would have you believe that under current law there is some special deduction that exists for moving jobs outside of the United States.  That is simply false.

“Rather, there has always been a deduction allowed for a business’s ordinary and necessary expenses — and expenses associated with moving have always been regarded as deductible business expenses.  So allowing a deduction for these expenses is not the special thing. It is the rule.”

Hatch described the bill as “devoid of serious content because it is the product of political, not economic, necessity.  This bill is a sound bite -- not sound tax policy.”

Hatch said the bill could be traced “in a straight line from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to the President’s reelection headquarters in Chicago.”

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