Fact Check: Obama Ad Battles Romney Over the Middle Class

By Steve Kanigher

Published 09/27 2012 05:29PM

Updated 09/28 2012 10:29AM

Claim: A new advertisement endorsed by President Barack Obama that is airing on KLAS-TV Channel 8 features a mother who talks about doing chores, paying bills and keeping her children healthy, followed by a narrator who states: "Moms like Christie would be stretched even more under Mitt Romney. To fund his tax cuts for millionaires Romney could take away middle class deductions for child care, home mortgages and college tuition." Christie: "Mitt Romney, he's so focused on big business and tax cuts for the wealthy it seems like his answers to middle class America are just ‘tough, tough luck.'"

Verdict: Misleading. Democrat Obama's campaign repeatedly has attacked Republican presidential nominee Romney's tax plan on the basis of research performed earlier this year by the Tax Policy Center, a collaboration of the Brookings Institution and Urban Institute think tanks. The center concluded based on what is known of Romney's plan that it would benefit the wealthiest Americans but hurt lower-income taxpayers. The flaw in the research, and one the authors conceded, is that they couldn't score Romney's plan directly because he hasn't released full details of how it would work. So they based their conclusions on certain assumptions. Romney has indicated that he wants to broaden the tax base, but hasn't disclosed which tax breaks or loopholes he would reduce or eliminate to avoid increasing federal budget deficits. The Washington Post, quoting from a center study released this summer, wrote that the tax breaks that could be cut include those for mortgage interest, employer-provided health care, education, medical expenses, state and local taxes and child care.

Romney's plan includes across-the-board 20 percent cuts in marginal income tax rates, and elimination of taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains for taxpayers with adjusted gross income below $200,000. Both of those proposals would help the middle class. What isn't known for certain is whether any tax break reductions proposed by Romney would negate the cuts in his other proposals. All of this could become a moot point, though, because tax revisions must be approved by Congress. That means there is no guarantee Romney's tax plan -- or any part of it -- will be adopted should he be elected president. The ad's broader implication that Romney is out to hurt the middle class also is premature because his tax plan is only part of a larger strategy to promote economic recovery. There is no way to tell for certain whether that strategy will help or hurt the middle class unless it is implemented.

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