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Obama Steps Up Attack on Romney’s Tax Reform Plan

President Obama; photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama delivers a speech Wednesday at a campaign event in Akron, Ohio. Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

For the second consecutive day President Obama’s campaign is blasting Mitt Romney’s tax reform plan as unfair to middle-class Americans, this time with a personal jab at the former Massachusetts governor’s vast wealth.

The Obama campaign released a television ad Thursday titled “Stretch,” which highlights the difference between the tax rate paid by the Republican hopeful and average workers.

“You work hard, stretch every penny, but chances are you pay a higher tax rate than him,” the narrator intones, as an image of Romney appears on screen. The ad goes on to hammer the GOP candidate for paying “only 14 percent in taxes” on $20 million in 2010 and for offering a plan “that will give millionaires another tax break” while increasing taxes “on middle-class families by up to $2,000 a year.”

The visuals in the spot strike at Team Obama’s narrative that Romney does not understand the economic difficulties facing most Americans, contrasting people performing everyday tasks such as shopping at the grocery store and washing dishes at home with images of Romney sitting in a corporate boardroom and getting off a plane with a Trump jet in the background.

You can watch the ad here or below.

The Obama campaign says the 30-second spot will air in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia.

The media push comes a day after the president attacked Romney’s tax plan on the stump in Ohio, citing a new study from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center that found the changes proposed by Romney “would provide large tax cuts to high-income households, and increase the tax burdens on middle- and/or lower-income taxpayers.”

“The centerpiece of my opponent’s entire economic plan is not only to extend the Bush tax cuts, but then to add a new $5 trillion tax cut on top of it,” the president said at an afternoon event in Akron.

Mr. Obama contended the “bulk” of the reductions would go to the “wealthiest Americans,” with people who earn more than $3 million a year getting a $250,000 break under Romney’s plan while middle-class Americans pick up the tab.

The Romney campaign said the report should be invalidated because it had “glaring gaps.”

“This is just another biased study from a former Obama staffer that ignores critical parts of Governor Romney’s tax reform program, which will help the middle class and promote faster economic growth,” Romney campaign policy director Lanhee Chen said in a statement.

The Romney campaign had described the Tax Policy Center as “nonpartisan,” however, when it cited its report in a press release targeting Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s plan last November.

Still, Chen said the study looked at “only half” of Romney’s plan and “ignores the positive benefits to economic growth from both the corporate tax plan and the deficit reduction” called for in the proposal.

Meanwhile, the U.S. House voted Wednesday to approve a one-year extension of all the Bush-era tax rates, a plan that has little hope of getting through the Democratic-controlled Senate. That chamber last week passed an extension of the tax cuts for families earning less than $250,000 a year.

Both candidates will be on the trail for the first time in a week, stumping in key battleground states, where the issue of taxes will likely take center stage.


The NewsHour evaluated the anti-establishment mood following Texas’ Senate primary and looked ahead to contests on the ballot that could mirror those results.

Judy Woodruff talked with the Texas Tribune’s Ross Ramsey and Nathan Gonzales of the Rothenberg Political Report and Roll Call to evaluate just how Ted Cruz was able to pull off his upset.

Ramsey noted that incumbents and establishment candidates lost across Texas on Tuesday, and described Cruz as a conservative who wasn’t all that different from his rival Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst:

This gets analyzed as Tea Party race. If it was a straight Tea Party race, you would have expected a bunch of issues differences. In fact, they had a debate at one point. And I was one of the questioners and asked how a Senator Cruz would be different from a Senator Dewhurst. And they didn’t really come up with much of substance.

Gonzales noted that if more Republicans like Cruz win, there could be more gridlock in the Senate’s future:

He is 41 years old. He is going to be a senator to the second largest state in the union and he has an opportunity to be a major player within the Republican Caucus. It looks like through his rhetoric in the county campaign that he’s going to align with someone like Sen. Jim DeMint, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, who are more concerned with an ideological purity, rather than even having a governing majority. And so if he chooses that, it will embolden that section of the caucus.

Going forward, if Republicans were to gain the Senate majority, I think that governing would be difficult for Republicans because you have this faction that is going to be against what some of the more moderate or mainstream Republicans are going to be for and pushing for.

Watch the segment here or below:

NewsHour politics desk assistant Beth Garbitelli attended two events in Washington on Wednesday that looked at the race. She reports that House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Texas’ contest reflected what began in the House in 2010 with the Tea Party’s victories.

“In the House we saw something revolutionary,” he said at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, adding that a similar a change will also come to the Senate.

“The Senate is like a country club and the House is like stopping at a truck stop for breakfast. We are a microcosm of society and we reflect it first,” McCarthy added. “The Senate just hasn’t had the opportunity to reflect it.”

The full impact from Tea Party Senate candidates this cycle remains to be seen, although the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., suggested that the bitter primary fights have further polarized Republicans and in the process drained GOP coffers and raised unfavorable ratings of Republican candidates among voters.

Murray pointed to primary contests in Missouri, Wisconsin and Arizona.

“The Republicans in those races have been pushing themselves even further to the right,” Murray stated during a DSCC press briefing.

“[Ted Cruz] just won last night, he had a very compelling story,” Murray said. “I think the bigger issue there is that [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell is now going to have, potentially, a much more Tea Party-oriented caucus and we have all seen the damage that has done to our ability to govern, to find compromise, to move this country forward in a positive direction.”

Murray also mentioned Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., who earlier this year lost a primary challenge from Richard Mourdock, who had the backing of the Tea Party.

“[I]t is a Republican Party problem and I think voters will see that more and more in the coming months and years,” she said.

Instead of creating distance from the “Tea Party-oriented caucus” label applied by Murray, McCarthy argued that the tactics of freshman representatives had increased transparency.

“That’s what the American people want: honest debate but an ability to debate,” McCarthy said. “Everyone gets elected based upon a certain number when we do redistricting, so everybody has the same amount of power. Those people should have the voice. That is a big change in Congress.”

McCarthy described the current House of Representatives as “healthier” and driven by ideas, but he had harsh words for the upper chamber. He said “bills don’t come up” and cited the lack of a budget as a key failure.

Looking ahead, both McCarthy and Murray expressed confidence that their respective parties would have a Senate majority when the 113th Congress gets underway next year.

The Washington Post delivered a front-page piece on the Wisconsin Senate primary. Initially it looked like former Gov. Tommy Thompson was the clear favorite. But as Karen Tumulty reported from Fond du Lac, Wis., it’s now a close battle that could easily have a result like Texas’ when voters head to the polls in less than two weeks:

The race has been upended by the late entry of Eric Hovde, 48, a banker, investor and hedge-fund manager who had not lived in the state for 24 years until moving back from Washington, D.C., in 2011. Although Thompson likes to point out that Hovde’s first vote for U.S. senator will be the one he casts for himself, the political newcomer has spent more than $4 million of his own money on advertising that portrays him as a fresh face with business expertise.

That created a possible opening for former congressman Mark Neumann, who also has benefited from the backing of national conservative leaders and from $700,000 in attack ads against Thompson and Hovde by the conservative group Club for Growth….

Polling over the past few weeks has shown that what was once an expected coronation has turned into a free-for-all, with a large portion of voters remaining undecided.

The race already was going to be close, which is one of the reasons we chose it for our NewsHour Senate Six. Should Hovde or Neumann upset Thompson, expect Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin to become the favorite to win the seat on Nov. 6.


  • The Washington Post’s David Nakamura notes the heavy media blitz bombarding Ohio voters as part of his piece on the president’s visit Wednesday to the Buckeye State.
  • The Associated Press’ Steve Peoples has the details about Romney’s multi-state bus tour that begins late next week and will take him through Virginia, North Carolina and Florida.
  • MoveOn.org activists plan to follow Romney to Colorado, Nevada and Indiana, and wave signs reading “Welcome Back Mitt! Now Release Those Returns!” The group also plans to fly an airplane with a banner depicting a similar message over Romney’s event in Colorado.
  • Ruth Marcus unearths a quote from Romney with a very nuanced take on abortion.
  • The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza reports that the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action has reserved $30 million in television airtime this fall in six battleground states.
  • Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain released a web video Wednesday urging people to take part in a “Unity Rally” in Tampa, Fla., on the Sunday before the GOP convention there.
  • Republicans criticized the Obama administration Wednesday for holding meetings with lobbyists away from the White House grounds in order to keep the sessions secret. Expect the GOP to keep talking about Caribou Coffee, where the meetings took place.
  • At the bottom of our Politics page, check out Elect Next, which aims to match your preferences with a presidential candidate.
  • Twitter teamed up with USA Today to create the Twindex, which will “make sense of the babel of commentary, observation, sarcasm, retweeting, calls to action and linkage that make up the Twitterverse,” the paper writes. Cillizza has more (and charts!) here.
  • A look at the two campaign apps in this crazy new digital world.



  • NewsHour reporter-producer Cassie M. Chew attended Wednesday’s sequestration hearing on Capitol Hill. Here is her report, and tune-in to Thursday’s NewsHour for Margaret Warner’s story on the politics behind the battle.
  • The Hill’s Jordy Yager reports that the House Ethics Committee on Wednesday recommended the full chamber vote to reprimand Rep. Laura Richardson, D-Calif., for pressuring her congressional staff to work on her political campaign. Richardson, who faces a tough fall campaign against fellow Democratic Rep. Janice Hahn, has agreed to pay a $10,000 fine and have staffers who work on her re-election sign a waiver that they were not pressured to do so.
  • The NewsHour examined the benefits of health care reform taking effect this month.
  • Judy Woodruff takes you inside the NewsHour’s editorial process in this week’s “Judy’s Notebook.”
  • The new strict voter ID laws in Pennsylvania seem to have excluded a few important voters in Pittsburgh, including a city councilman and a former beloved mayor’s wife.
  • Hari Sreenivasan gets a little perspective on the Chick-fil-A spat.
  • Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, a Republican-turned-independent, endorsed Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson’s re-election bid over Republican Rep. Connie Mack.
  • A new group called Face the Facts is aiming to deliver a new fact each day through the election. Today’s: We’re driving more, but maybe enjoying it less.
  • Mia Love, the Republican candidate in Utah’s 4th Congressional District, asked BuzzFeed for some fundraising help.
  • ProPublica checks into the numbers politicians use to talk about the impact of cybercrime, and the results are dubious.
  • The Washington Times’ Jim McElhatton reports that the GSA scandal has widened.

Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.


All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • Mitt Romney attends campaign events in Golden, Colo., at 1:15 p.m. and Basalt, Colo., at 5:50 p.m.
  • First lady Michelle Obama campaigns in New Hampshire with events in Holderness at 1:35 p.m., Laconia at 3:05 p.m. and Manchester at 5:20 p.m.
  • President Obama attends campaign events in Winter Park, Fla., at 2:40 p.m. and Leesburg, Va., at 7:40 p.m.
  • Vice President Joe Biden has an 11 a.m. meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder at the White House.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:

For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan, @tiffanymullon, @dePeystah, @meenaganesan and @abbruns.

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