J. Scott Applewhite / AP
Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012 | 2 a.m.
As the U.S. House prepares for a contentious vote on a pair of tax cut extension bills, President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign is ramping up an effort to convince voters that Republican Mitt Romney’s tax plan is designed to protect the rich.
In a multipronged attack, the Obama campaign is releasing a series of state-based reports interpreting how Romney’s tax proposals would affect middle-class Americans, launching a new television campaign attacking the proposal and even unveiling a new smartphone application to help organizers push the message on the ground.
With smartphones in hand, door-to-door canvassers and campaign organizers, for example, will tell voters how many Nevadans might lose their mortgage interest deduction under Romney’s plan and what would happen if Romney ended the charitable giving deduction.
The problem with many of their attacks is that they are still theoretical.
While Romney has put forward a somewhat detailed tax plan — permanently extending the Bush tax cuts, further cutting individual tax rates and the corporate income tax, and eliminating the estate tax — he hasn’t detailed how he would keep the plan deficit neutral.
Instead, he’s said he would eliminate some deductions and credits but hasn’t been specific as to which ones he would actually target.
That leaves Romney open to attacks from Obama, who, drawing on interpretations from various economists, says Romney would eliminate some of the most popular deductions, including those for mortgage interest, charitable giving and employer-provided health care.
“Mitt Romney would take us back to the top-down economics that failed us in the past,” says a report the Obama campaign will release today on Romney’s tax policies. “He would enact budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthiest while cutting investments that grow our economy and our middle class.
“And Romney claims that these tax cuts wouldn’t add to the deficit, which is only possible if he raises taxes on middle-class Nevadans.”
A television ad on Nevada airwaves is a little more blunt.
“Mitt Romney’s plan: a new $250,000 tax cut for millionaires,” the announcer says.
While Romney hasn’t specified which deductions he would target, he believes everything must be on the table to ensure a true debate over how to reform the tax code and would work with Congress to figure out which deductions make the most sense to eliminate.
The campaign push comes as the House is preparing to vote on two bills. One, backed by Obama, would extend the Bush-era tax cuts for all income earners under $250,000. The second, backed by Republicans and Romney, would extend the tax cuts for all earners.
In a twist, the Obama campaign is accusing Romney of supporting a tax increase on the middle class unless he gets a tax cut for millionaires, too. Romney actually supports the tax cuts for all income levels.
Romney’s campaign fired back that Obama’s timing for eliminating tax cuts for those who earn more than $250,000 a year couldn’t be worse for Nevadans who are suffering under the highest unemployment rate in the nation.
Romney’s Nevada spokesman, Mason Harrison, argued the tax increase would hit small businesses, not just individuals.
“Those are the folks who need to be hiring people right now,” he said. “Why would we want to raise taxes on them? And now (the Obama campaign) is trying to use the class warfare angle to try and paint Romney as someone who wants to protect the wealthy?”