Obama, however, said that Romney’s tax plan would do just that. He said his rival favors a $5 trillion tax cut and argued that eliminating loopholes and deductions for the wealthiest Americans would not provide enough revenue to avoid deepening the deficit. He said Romney would either have to cut into middle-class benefits or reduce spending on vital programs.
“The magnitude of the tax cuts that you’re talking about, Governor, would end up resulting in severe hardship for people but, more importantly, would not help us grow,” the president said.
Romney repeatedly has declined to specify what loopholes and deductions he would eliminate and passed up opportunities to do so again Wednesday. But he said Obama had mischaracterized his tax plan, saying that it does not include a $5 trillion cut.
“Let me repeat what I said,” Romney said. “I’m not in favor of a $5 trillion tax cut. That’s not my plan. My plan is not to put in place any tax cut that will add to the deficit.”
Obama and Romney clashed over Medicare, with both promising to protect the health-care program for seniors. Obama accused Romney of wanting to turn it into a voucher program, while Romney claimed that the president cut $716 million from Medicare to help pay for the Affordable Care Act.
Romney was eager to launch into a critique of the landmark legislation that he cited as his top example of programs that must be eliminated to close the federal deficit. “I apologize, Mr. President,” Romney added after referring to the program as Obamacare. “I use that term with respect.”
“I like it,” Obama quickly responded, but that was about their only real point of agreement.
Romney argued that the program would raise health-care costs and make it less likely that businesses would hire new workers. He accused Obama of establishing an unelected board to make health-care decisions for patients, and of cutting more than $700 billion from Medicare to help pay for the law. And he chastised the incumbent for “pushing through” legislation of such magnitude without a single Republican vote.
“I just don’t know how the president could have come into office — facing 23 million people out of work, rising unemployment, an economic crisis at the kitchen table — and spend his energy and passion for two years fighting for Obamacare instead of fighting for jobs for the American people,” Romney said. “It has killed jobs.”
Obama pushed back, particularly on the point about the cut to Medicare, which he explained, and independent analysis has shown, does not include direct reductions to benefits for seniors but rather ratchets down payments to providers, including insurance companies.