Photo: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
President Barack Obama will officially launch the battle over the impending fiscal cliff this morning, announcing a plan to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for people earning under $250,000, while letting the rest of the tax cuts expire. In interviews with The New York Times, senior administration officials insisted that the move is more than just a political ploy, saying that it will ease anxiety over the fiscal cliff.
In reality, however, the announcement will do virtually nothing to advance the debate over how to avoid impending fiscal doom. House Republicans are scheduled to vote to extend all of the Bush tax cuts later this month. Even Congressional Democrats aren’t going as far as the President, with Democratic leaders like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and New York Senator Chuck Schumer calling for an extension of the cuts for people earning under $1 million.
Contrary to the White House’s claims, the move appears to be almost entirely about politics. By calling for only a one-year extension of the tax cuts, Obama is trying to cast GOP leaders as obstructionists, while also deepening the contrast between himself and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who favours extending all of the Bush tax cuts.
The political benefit for Obama is twofold. First, the tax announcement shifts the conversation away from last week’s disappointing jobs report. The President will campaign on his tax plan in Iowa tomorrow, meeting with middle-class families who will benefit from the extension.
Second, with the middle-class tax cut announcement, the Obama campaign hopes to paint Romney into a corner on the issue of the deficit. The move comes on the heels of a coordinated media blitz by Democrats, attacking Romney over his personal wealth and business record. Recent polling suggests that these attacks are succeeding at convincing voters that Romney is an out-of-touch elitist, which in turn will likely make it difficult for the Republican candidate to respond to Obama’s tax plan without appearing overprotective of the rich.
But the Romney campaign appears to have already found its message on the President’s tax plan, calling it a “massive tax increase” on “job creators.”
Romney campaign spokesperson Andrea Saul emails this statement:
“President Obama’s response to even more bad economic news is a massive tax increase. It just proves again that the President doesn’t have a clue how to get America working again and help the middle class. The President’s latest bad idea is to raise taxes on families, job creators, and small businesses. Almost half a million fewer Americans are working today than the day Barack Obama took office, and we’ve just come through the worst job creation quarter in two years. Unlike President Obama, Governor Romney understands that the last thing we need to do in this economy is raise taxes on anyone. He has a plan to permanently lower marginal rates, help middle-class Americans save and invest, and jumpstart economic growth and job creation.”
NOW HERE’S THE DOWNSIDE: Why Obama’s Class War Won’t Work >
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