President Obama’s top campaign officials are attacking Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for an economic plan they say will benefit wealthy Americans, not the middle class.
“His plan gives tax breaks to millionaires, billionaires, and large corporations while doing nothing to help middle class families,” said Obama for America Campaign Manager Jim Messina.
Messina and Obama campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt held a conference call with New Hampshire reporters today, the day before Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, kicks off a bus tour of the state. Despite the fact that Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are tied for the lead in recent national polls, and Gingrich will also be in New Hampshire tomorrow, the Democrats appear most concerned with Romney as a potential nominee. While LaBolt criticized Gingrich when asked about him by a reporter, the Democratic president’s advisers directed most of their fire toward Romney.
Romney’s tax plan would lower tax rates for corporations; eventually create a simpler, flatter tax for individuals; and eliminate dividends and capital gains taxes for those making less than $200,000 a year.
On Fox News Sunday this week, Chris Wallace pointed out that Romney’s tax plan would save a family earning $75,000 a year just $167. Romney responded that “$167 is not zero,” while acknowledging that it was not a huge tax cut.
Messina called Romney’s comments “ironic” given that Romney previously criticized a proposal by Obama to extend the payroll tax cut, calling it a “temporary little Band-Aid.” (Romney later said he would support extending the payroll tax cut.) Messina said middle class families would see lower taxes under Obama’s tax cut than under Romney’s plan.
The Republican-led House today rejected Obama’s plan to extend the payroll tax cut, which lowers the tax by two percentage points, for two months. Messina noted that Republican Senator Scott Brown, of Massachusetts, has called the Republicans’ refusal to compromise on extending the tax cut “irresponsible and wrong.” “We’re waiting to hear whether Romney agrees with his home state senator,” Messina said.
LaBolt criticized Romney for supporting a Republican budget plan that would include a plan to change Medicare to a voucher system and would cut expenditures, including grants for higher education.
Messina also tried to counter Romney’s claim that his health care overhaul in Massachusetts is different from Obama’s overhaul nationally. Romney has stood by the Massachusetts plan, while saying he would repeal Obama’s. “Governor Romney’s former health care policy advisers have been very clear his plan laid the groundwork for national health care reform,” Messina said. “We don’t understand why Mitt Romney would run away from what was supposed to be his signature accomplishment in Massachusetts. It speaks to the fact that he reinvents himself in each campaign he’s run based on the audience he’s trying to please, which raises real questions about what his core values are.”
While Obama won New Hampshire in 2008, his level of support has been dropping and New Hampshire is expected to be a battleground state in 2012.
In response to the Obama aides’ remarks, Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul said, “President Obama’s big government policies have been disastrous for the middle class. He has raised taxes 19 times, borrowed nearly $1 trillion for a failed stimulus, all while unemployment has remained above 8 percent for a record-shattering 34 months.
“Just because President Obama refuses to accept responsibility, doesn’t mean the American people won’t hold him accountable. Mitt Romney believes that we must fundamentally change the tax code to provide relief to our families and small businesses, help grow the economy, and create jobs.”Shira Schoenberg can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @shiraschoenberg.