Total Pageviews

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Republicans Seize On Biden\'s \'Middle Class\' Remark


A stray sentence by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Tuesday became the latest remark seized by the opposition and turned into a blistering line of attack against him.

After Mr. Biden described the middle class as having “been buried the last four years,'' Republicans pounced, treating it as an unwitting admission of President Obama's failures.

The vice president was criticizing the Republican ticket for pursuing a tax overhaul that would raise taxes on the middle class, he said.

“How can they justify raising taxes on the middle class that's been buried the last four years?'' Mr. Biden said at a campaign rally in Charlotte, N.C.

The Republican barrage came fast and furious by Twitter message, press release and campaign conference call. It began with a tweet from Mitt Romney's account:

Campaigning in Iowa, Representative Paul D. Ryan reinforced the message. “Of course the middle class has been buried,'' he said. “They're being buried by regulations; they're being buried by taxes; they're being buried by borrowing. They're being buried by the Obama Administration's economic failures.”

The Romney-Ryan campaign even held an afternoon press call with one of its fiercest surrogates, John Sununu, the former New Hampshire governor, to drive home the theme.

Republicans seemed to seize on the remark with special fervor, coming as it did one day before the first debate between Mr. Romney and President Obama, in which the cost of Mr. Romney's proposed tax cuts for the rich and his disparagement of 47 percent of Americans who don't pay income taxes are sure to be topics of discussion.

In respon se, the Obama campaign called the attacks “desperate and out of context.''

“As the Vice President has been saying all year and again in his remarks today, the middle class was punished by the failed Bush policies that crashed our economy,'' a spokeswoman, Lis Smith, said.

In his North Carolina remarks, Mr. Biden was citing, as the Democrats have has for months, an independent study that found that cutting tax rates by 20 percent and closing loopholes to avoid increasing the deficit, as Mr. Romney proposes, could only be done by raising taxes on households earning less than $200,000.

The audience booed.

“No, no â€" all kidding aside,'' Mr. Biden said. “With all the boos â€" I mean, we can stop all that malarkey. Look, guys, this is deadly earnest, man. This is deadly earnest. How they can justify raising taxes on the middle class that's been buried the last four years? How in the Lord's name can they justify raising their taxes with these tax cuts?''

Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan dispute the accuracy of the study, by the Tax Policy Center, and they have cited studies of their own showing their tax plan will not hit the middle class.

The maladroit sentence was the latest in a long series this year that have been yanked from context and used by the opposition, including Mr. Romney's remark that he “liked to fire people” and Mr. Obama's comment that “you didn't build that.”

Later in the day, Mr. Biden clarified his meaning. “The middle class was buried by the policies that Romney and Ryan have supported,” he told a crowd in Asheville, N.C.