To make his case, Obama visited a middle-class family in Cedar Rapids whose taxes could go up by $2,000 if Congress doesn’t act.
But the quick campaign trip was also about Iowa, the state that propelled Obama to his party’s nomination when he won the caucuses here four years ago — and a state that is increasingly shaping up as one of the most challenging battlegrounds of the 2012 election.
“My opponent and his allies in Congress, they sincerely believe that prosperity comes from the top down,” Obama told a crowd of about 1,600 at Kirkland Community College in Cedar Rapids. “They believe that if we spend trillions of dollars more in tax cuts, mostly for the wealthy, that somehow it will create more jobs.
“And I think they’re wrong,” he added.
Obama wove the tax-cut argument into his broader campaign message, offering a choice between his own vision of strengthening the middle class by protecting the government programs that benefit them and that of Romney, whose plans to slash spending and cut taxes for top earners would come, Obama said, at the expense of the middle class.
Obama presented a similar contrast between Romney’s plans to roll back banking regulations and attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, as well as his past opposition to the auto industry bailout, to the president’s own policies to invest more in infrastructure and education, help homeowners refinance underwater mortgages and keep student loan rates low.
“All these things that make up a middle-class life, they’re all tied together,” Obama said. “They’re all central to the ideas that made this big, diverse, hopeful, optimistic, hardworking country great. The idea that if you work hard, you can have the security to make of your life what you will. The idea that we are all in this together. We are all individuals, and we have to take responsibility, but ultimately there are some things we do together.”
Romney, campaigning in Colorado, denounced Obama’s plan to let tax breaks expire for higher-income earners, saying it would raise taxes on what he called “job creators and small businesses.”
Obama’s trip to Iowa, billed a campaign trip by the White House, came the day after the president announced his proposal to extend George W. Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class at an official White House event staged in the East Room with working families. Obama announced that he would support a one-year extension for households earning less than $250,000, which he said would cover roughly 98 percent of households.
White House press secretary Jay Carney, speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Iowa on Tuesday, was asked whether the proposal is official policy or a campaign issue. “Both,” he said.