Rendell Touts Obama's Tax Cuts in Pa.
By Jonathan Weisman
DOVER, N.H. -- Convinced John McCain's message on taxes is doing serious damage, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell activated his vaunted political machine today, sending a memo (PDF) to every elected Democrat in the Keystone State to get the word out that Barack Obama's plan would cut taxes for the middle class far more than McCain's.
In an interview, Rendell said the Obama campaign is beginning to push back successfully on McCain's character attacks, but the Republican's charge that Obama would raise middle-class taxes might be the more damaging line. The McCain ads are "just despicable," he said, "but nowhere are they lying more clearly than on the tax issue."
"I think we're losing the air war on this tax issue," Rendell said. "We have to win the ground war."
By Rendell's calculations, a family with income of $75,000 stands to receive just $125 from McCain's tax plan, through his expanded exemption for dependents. Under Obama's plan, that same family would receive a $1,000 refundable tax credit to offset payroll taxes, a net gain of about $1,600 for college tuition and $500 from his universal mortgage tax credit aimed at families that do not itemize their returns, for a total tax cut of $3,100.
Yet McCain has said over and over that Obama will raise taxes, a message believed by 51 percent of voters, according to the most recent Washington Post/ABC News poll. Rendell said the personal attacks should wash out of the electorate when undecided voters see Obama during the debates. But in a time of economic duress, the perception that Obama represents a threat to their income security will not be dislodged easily.
"We're striking back on a lot of the personal stuff as we should," Rendell said, "but as much as they put up he's raising your taxes, we should put up, they're lying."
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