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Obama gives blistering take on Romney

Last modified: 8/19/2012 12:00:00 AM

President Obama, appearing outside at Rochester Commons yesterday after a stop at Windham High, trumpeted his record as a defender of the middle class, adding that he's proud of the term "Obamacare," often used by Republicans to poke fun at his health care law.

Showing up more than a half-hour early for his late-afternoon pep talk, Obama spent much of his 28-minute speech attacking Mitt Romney, the expected Republican nominee for president, saying the former governor of Massachusetts will turn his back on the middle class and instead cater to the rich.

Romney's plan, Obama said, would raise taxes on middle-class families by an average of $2,000 per year, while giving someone with an income of $3 million $250,000 in tax relief.

"Trickle-down snake oil," Obama called it in Rochester, after referring to Romney's policy as "trickle-down fairy dust" several hours earlier in Windham.

Independent analysis, Obama said, proves Romney's plan won't work, and Romney's choice for vice president, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, merely adds to the false notion that helping the rich will assist the majority, the president said.

"The centerpiece of Gov. Romney's entire economic plan is a new $5 trillion tax cut, with a lot of it going to folks like me, a lot of it going to the wealthiest Americans," Obama said. "His running mate put forward a plan that would let Gov. Romney pay less than 1 percent in taxes each year. That's a pretty good deal.

"They truly believe that if you roll back regulations that we put into place to control Wall Street," Obama continued, "and give more tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, that somehow prosperity will come raining down on all of us."

Obama said his tax policy shows fairness, giving middle-income people more money to spend to stimulate the economy, while asking the country's top earners to pay more.

"I want to keep taxes right where they are for your first $250,000 of income," Obama said. "That means 98 percent of Americans make less than $250,000, 97 percent of small-businessmen make less than $250,000, so under my plan you wouldn't see your taxes go up a single dime next year. . . . If you're fortunate enough to be in the other 2 percent, you're still going to get a tax cut on the first $250,000 of income. All we're asking is that you contribute a little bit so we can pay down our debt."

Obama touted his health care law, saying 6.5 million young people now have insurance because they can remain on their parents' plan, millions of seniors have access to prescription drugs at discount prices and many Americans are insured even with pre-existing conditions.

"I'm actually kind of proud of the term 'Obamacare,' " Obama said. "I fought for that bill because I care."

Elsewhere, Obama cited the budget plan brought into focus after Ryan was nominated last weekend. It calls for a voucher system to help limit the federal government's responsibility for the cost of Medicare. It's a policy that has drawn sharp criticism from Democrats and will be a central issue during the upcoming debates.

"Gov. Romney wants to turn Medicare into a voucher system," Obama said. "Congressman Ryan wants to turn Medicare into a voucher system. . . . Their plan makes seniors pay more so they can give another tax cut to rich folks who don't need a tax cut. . . . Their plan would shorten the life of Medicare, and end Medicare as we know it."

Continuing his smorgasbord of topics, Obama took credit for keeping promises, such as ending the war in Iraq, finding Osama bin Laden and creating a plan to withdraw from Afghanistan.

"I've already passed tax breaks for companies that hire veterans and made historic investments in the VA," Obama said, "because my attitude is anybody who has fought for our country shouldn't have to fight for a job when they come home."

The packed common, with an estimated 3,800 people, cheered anything and everything the president said. Afterward, criticism was nowhere to be found.

Some loved Obama's foreign policy.

"The high point was when he talked about ending the war and soldiers coming home and being able to get jobs," said Karen Craft, a local nurse. "They deserve it."

Others cited Obama's domestic agenda, which dominated his speech. Andy Rouse, 64, a retired software technician from Andover, Mass., recalled the days when Romney governed his state.

"We kind of know him down there," Rouse said. "He represents the upper class, the wealthy, the big corporations. Obama to me represents more of the middle class, and what he said what Romney's plan would do as far as taxes really resonated with me, because it's so true. They have the same old trickle-down economics that I remember back in the Nixon days in the 1960s and '70s."

Joan O'Brien, also from Andover, Mass., is self employed. Trust played a part in her reaction.

"I believe in him," O'Brien said. "He's not full of bull. I don't believe in the other party. They don't believe in women's rights. They don't believe in the middle class, and I think Barack Obama is the best."

With Obama pulling double duty in the state yesterday, New Hampshire, known as a battleground state, continues to attract the candidates, despite having only four electoral votes.

This marked Obama's fourth appearance in the Granite State in the past 10 months. Romney and Ryan are scheduled to speak tomorrow in Manchester.

Romney has also spent time at his lake house in Wolfeboro this summer, adding to his own visibility, already high because of his Massachusetts roots. That, Obama knows, could help his opponent here.

"New Hampshire," he said, "I'm going to need your help."

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story included an erroneous quote. President Obama said Ryan "put forward a plan that would let Gov. Romney pay less than 1 percent in taxes each year."

(Ray Duckler can be reached at 369-3304 or rduckler@cmonitor.com.)'


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