I was wondering when the Romney campaign would start to respond in earnest to the parade of Obama ads claiming that Mitt Romney plans to raise taxes on middle class Americans, then Joe Biden opened his mouth. Chicago relies on an incomplete, thrice-debunked study to draw the conclusion that Romney has designs on tax hikes for middle income workers, irrespective of the evidence and despite FactCheck.org calling them out for "disinformation." Even the group that produced the original analysis has questioned Obama's attacks. Mitt Romney's plan is to cut income tax rates across the board, then limit and eliminate some loopholes that overwhelmingly benefit the richest Americans as part of a tax code simplification effort. This approach aligns with the recommendations of the president's Bowles-Simpson commission, which Obama has ignored. But what's so aggravating about the avalanche of ads from Team Obama isn't just that they're misstating the Republicans' position, it's that they're attack over something they themselves have done, and will almost certainly do again. In spite of his "firm pledge" to the middle class, Barack Obama has raised taxes on middle income households on multiple occasions, most notably through the infamous Obamacare mandate tax. This new spot from Romney directly addresses this point. As you watch this, see if you can spot which Democrat Team Romney would like to associate with Obama:
One additional tax point that Romney should start using against Obama: Throughout his latest class-warfare push to hike taxes on successful small businesses, the president says he's on the side of the middle class because he favors extending the current, Bush-era tax levels on families and businesses making less than $250,000 for one year (setting aside the Obamacare tax increase). For one year? Not only does this provide zero stability for families and businesses, why wouldn't a self-professed champion of the middle class oppose making the current rates permanent, or at least extend them for a lengthy period? Perhaps it's because Obama knows that to keep up with his ever-growing appetite for more government spending, everyone is going to have to pay more -- excuse me, pay their "fair share" -- in the very near future. Finally, Obama regularly states or heavily implies that Bush's tax cuts "for the rich" caused "this mess in the first place." He sometimes couples this allegation with criticism of lax regulation, but he targets the wrong party on that count. Even the Washington Post's fact-checker has heard enough of this false talking point, awarding it "Three Pinocchios:"
It is time for the Obama campaign to retire this talking point, no matter how much it seems to resonate with voters. The financial crisis of 2008 stemmed from a variety of complex factors, in particular the bubble in housing prices and the rise of exotic financial instruments. Deregulation was certainly an important factor, but as the government commission concluded, the blame for that lies across administrations, not just in the last Republican one. In any case, the Bush tax cuts belong at the bottom of the list — if at all. Moreover, it is rather strange for the campaign to cite as its source an article that, according to the author, does not support this assertion. We nearly made this Four Pinocchios but ultimately decided that citing deregulation in conjunction with tax cuts kept this line out of the “whopper” category. Still, in his effort to portray Romney as an echo of Bush, the president really stretches the limits here. Three Pinocchios.
Parting though: If these tax rates "caused the crisis to begin with," or whatever, why has Obama extended them during his presidency? I'll let him answer that question.
UPDATE - On a somewhat related note, a new poll shows doctors breaking heavily for Romney. But what do they know about healthcare, compared to expert bureaucrats like Katheleen Sebelius?
UPDATE II - I linked to this yesterday, but it's worth re-stating; A new analysis from the American Enterprise Institute estimates that President Obama's reckless deficit spending will add $4,000 to middle class Americans' tax obligations every year. This is why he's desperate to (incorrectly) apply the "middle class tax-hiker" label to Romney.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography