If there had been any doubt that the general election was here, it was dispelled Wednesday morning.
As President Obama took to the Rose Garden for an event to promote his Buffett Rule tax increase on the wealthiest Americans, Mitt Romney’s campaign launched a counter-offensive in a conference call with some of the former Massachusetts governor’s top economic advisers.
Romney economic policy adviser Kevin Hassett, policy director Lanhee Chen and CKE Restaurants CEO Andy Puzder slammed the Buffett Rule proposal and, for a third straight day, renewed the GOP argument that the Obama administration’s economic proposals have disproportionately affected women.
The Buffett Rule, argued Hassett, amounts to a “gussied-up” capital gains tax hike and a policy move that would result in marginal tax rates “well in excess of 30 percent.”
Puzder called the proposal “obviously politically motivated” and said that it would have little impact on either addressing the country’s ballooning debt or on righting the economy.
“The recovery seems to be stagnant,” he said. “The economy seems to be stagnant. And all we’re talking about is a rule that will raise less than one percent of what we’re talking about in deficit spending over the next ten years.”
Chen contended that what is “most startling” about Obama’s record is that women account for more than 90 percent of the job losses that have occurred since Obama took office — a point that the administration disputes.
Obama, he added, needs to stop blaming others and start taking responsibility for the country’s economic downturn.
Even as the Romney camp came out swinging against Obama, Romney’s advisers faced some tough questions regarding their candidate’s position on the issues.
Asked whether Romney would support the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act — the equal-pay bill that was the first piece of legislation Obama signed upon taking office — Romney’s advisers declined to say.
In response, the Obama campaign pounced by releasing a statement from Ledbetter blasting Romney on the issue.
“I was shocked and disappointed to hear that Mitt Romney is not willing to stand up for women and their families,” Ledbetter said in the statement. “If he is truly concerned about women in this economy, he wouldn’t have to take time to ‘think’ about whether he supports the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.”
Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul later tweeted: “Women account for 92% of jobs lost under Obama. Of course @MittRomney supports pay equity for women. Does Obama support jobs for women?”
And asked what Obama administration policies in particular had contributed to job losses among women, the advisers pointed to broader agenda items such as the national health care law and the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory reform law — measures that they contended hurt all sectors of the economy, but had resulted in greater job losses among women.