Plouffe: Dems Must Rebut GOP's Tax-Hike Message

Plouffe: Dems Must Rebut GOP's Tax-Hike Message

By Alexis Simendinger - June 29, 2012

One day after President Obama warned that viewing the Supreme Court's health care decision through a political lens is "completely missing the point," his top political adviser encouraged congressional Democrats in a memo to do just that.

David Plouffe, Obama’s senior adviser and his campaign manager in 2008, rebutted Republicans’ criticisms that the president was raising Americans’ taxes as part of the Affordable Care Act. The GOP tax-hike analysis is being pinned to the court’s ruling Thursday that the health law is constitutional in part because the penalty imposed if Americans do not carry health insurance is akin to a tax.

“Republicans in Washington are trying to deliberately misrepresent the president’s record of cutting taxes for the middle class,” Plouffe told congressional Democrats in a memo titled “Winning the Middle Class Tax Battle.” He accused Republicans of ginning up a debate about higher taxes under Obama when the data refute GOP assertions, he said.

“We urge you to go on offense to illustrate how the president and Democrats in Congress are standing up for the middle class,” he wrote in the two-page memo released by the White House Friday afternoon.

Plouffe’s public protest memo is a defensive ploy the White House hopes it can transform into an offensive play when House Republicans return from the Fourth of July break. House conservatives have said they will vote on July 11 to repeal the 2010 health reform law. That effort is just for show -- the law cannot be changed without cooperation from the Democratic-controlled Senate -- but a political fight this summer in which Republicans accuse Obama of raising taxes lets the two sides mobilize their respective bases.

“Republicans in Congress have voted to preserve tax breaks for big oil and cut taxes for millionaires by 25%,” Plouffe wrote, “and they’ll pay for that by ending Medicare as we know it and raising taxes for the middle class.”

White House talking points crafted to help “drive” the debate this weekend and in the coming months, Plouffe said, include the following arguments:

-- The Affordable Care Act provides an average $4,000 tax cut for more than 18 million middle-class people and their families;

-- The penalty imposed as part of the insurance mandate, described by Chief Justice John Roberts as functioning like a tax, was modeled on Mitt Romney’s health care law in Massachusetts, and is estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to impact 1 percent of the population;

-- The ACA should be “improved” as it is implemented through 2014, and the administration wants to give states more “flexibility”;

-- Obama has signed laws to cut taxes by $3,600 for an average middle-class family. The GOP wants to raise taxes on the middle class and give millionaires and billionaires a tax cut worth $250,000, Plouffe wrote.

The White House asserts that Obama has the better “vision” compared to Romney regarding middle-class concerns, including taxes. The president will have a chance to discuss tax reform and a “balanced” approach to deficit reduction with voters through the summer and fall.

A report released June 20 by Congress’ Joint Economic Committee found that the House Republican budget plan authored by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, which has been generally endorsed by Romney, would benefit the wealthy over the middle class. The richest 0.1 percent of taxpayers would receive an estimated tax cut of $1.18 million per taxpaying household in 2015, the report found. The Ryan budget plan would raise taxes on those earning less than $200,000 annually by eliminating tax breaks and exclusions now in place, it also said.

Alexis Simendinger covers the White House for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ASimendinger.

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