By Kira Zalan |
President Barack Obama and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney spent this week on the campaign trail sparring over the extension of the tax cuts created by President George W. Bush. The cuts are scheduled to expire in 2013 as part of the "fiscal cliff" that many fear will send the country back into recession. Under Obama's proposal, the tax cuts would be extended for those making under $250,000 a year but would expire for those making more, what Obama says would be a raise in taxes for only the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. Romney favors extending the cuts for all income brackets.
Neither plan is likely to be passed before the election. Rather, the debate frames the overall themes of the campaigns. The Romney camp accused Obama of threatening the weak economy with a "job-killing tax increase" in a statement Monday. Tuesday, Romney's stump speech stayed on that message: "So at the very time the American people are seeing fewer jobs created than we need, the president announces that he's going to make it harder for jobs to be created," Romney said. "I just don't think this president understands how our economy works."
Meanwhile, Obama is using the proposal to complement the overall populist theme of his campaign. In the past he has also argued for a "Buffett tax," which would raise taxes on the very wealthy (an idea endorsed by Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the land), and his campaign has continually pounded Romney as being an out-of-touch millionaire. Obama argues that his plan is the right way to responsibly deal with the deficit without risking the vulnerable economic recovery. "The money we're spending on these tax cuts for the wealthy are a major driver of our deficit," Obama said Monday. "We can't afford to keep that up, not right now."
With a string of disappointing jobs reports and little that he can do to improve the economy before the election, Obama must depend on selling his message on the economy to win the election. Will his tax gambit work? Here is the Debate Club's take.
Lara Brown Author of 'Jockeying for the American Presidency: The Political Opportunism of Aspirants'
Brad Bannon President of Bannon Communications Research, a Polling and Consulting firm
Matt Mackowiak Republican Consultant and President of Potomac Strategy Group
Penny Lee President of Venn Strategies, a Government Relations and Public Affairs firm