Who will raise taxes on the middle class?
This is the question posed by Republican Mitt Romney’s new ad.
His answer: President “Barack Obama and the liberals.” In particular, Nancy Pelosi, the former House speaker from California who helped Obama pass his health-care legislation when Democrats still controlled Congress. The ad pairs Obama and Pelosi as a liberal threat, despite the fact that Republicans are likely to maintain control of the House after November’s elections.
Obama has raised and answered the question in his own ads, which accuse Romney of threatening higher taxes on the middle class. The 20 percent across-the-board tax cuts that Romney proposes cannot be paid for without deeply reaching into tax exemptions that benefit many taxpayers, including the middle class, according to the Washington-based Tax Policy Center.
Yet Romney’s ad, in highlighting $1 trillion in new taxes that Obama proposes, maintains these will hit the middle class. Obama is proposing to eliminate the Bush-era tax cuts for households earning more than $250,000 a year, and maintaining the tax cuts for everyone earning less.
The one tax likely to hit the middle class in January, regardless of who is elected in November, is the expiration of the temporary relief in payroll taxes that has been in effect during the past two years as an economic stimulus. That has benefited people making less than $100,000 a year, as the payroll tax isn’t applied much beyond that level of income.
Romney’s ad also touts his plan to restrict tax exemptions for millionaires, the ones which the Tax Policy Center says cannot be obtained in a revenue-neutral plan without affecting the middle class. A lack of specifics in Romney’s proposal — which exemptions, such as the one for mortgage interest, charities or employer-paid health insurance, he would trim — make a definitive analysis elusive at best.