LA Times, AP asserted that Edwards tax plan allows GOP to call him an "incorrigible tax raiser[]," "tax-and spender"

››› ››› BEN ARMBRUSTER

On July 26, Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards unveiled part of his economic plan, which involves cutting taxes for low- and middle-income Americans by, in part, raising capital gains taxes for those making over $250,000 per year and repealing the Bush tax cuts for those earning over $200,000 per year. However, in their reports on Edwards' plan, the Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press asserted that his proposal represents a political risk because it would allow Republicans to portray him as an "incorrigible tax raiser[]" or a "tax-and-spender in the mold of Walter Mondale." Neither article explained how offering a plan to provide tax cuts and incentives for a majority of Americans would leave him open to such criticism.

Edwards's plan includes the following provisions for low- to middle-income Americans:

  • Create a "Get Ahead" tax credit that would match savings up to $500 a year for families earning up to $75,000, money "that could be used for retirement, college education, buying a home, investing in a small business or during a financial or medical emergency."
  • Expand the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit to pay up to 50 percent of child care expenses up to $5,000 and make it partially for lower-income working families.
  • Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit for single adults and reduce the "marriage penalty" for 3 million families.

In a July 27 article, the Los Angeles Times described Edwards' plan as "a politically risky position for anyone heading into a general election contest against Republicans." From the article:

Tax hikes, once anathema to Democrats trying to shed their image as tax-and-spend liberals, are back.

The three leading contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination are promising that, if they win the White House, they will repeal or let expire the tax cuts for wealthier voters that were enacted under President Bush.

In Iowa Wednesday, former Sen. John Edwards went even further by proposing additional tax hikes on capital gains, hedge funds and corporations to help pay for new tax breaks for lower-income families.

[...]

Edwards' proposal may be a crowd-pleaser for Democratic primary voters who object to Bush's big tax cuts.

But it may be a politically risky position for anyone heading into a general election contest against Republicans, who portray Democrats as incorrigible tax raisers.

Similarly, the July 26 AP article reported that Edwards's plan would "create tax breaks for the middle class" and create other financial incentives for low-income earners, but nonetheless asserted that "[b]y calling for tax increases for the wealthy, Edwards risks opening himself to criticism that he's a tax-and-spender in the mold of Walter Mondale":

By calling for tax increases for the wealthy, Edwards risks opening himself to criticism that he's a tax-and-spender in the mold of Walter Mondale, the 1984 Democratic presidential nominee who said he would raise taxes. In the election, Mondale suffered a 49-state defeat, losing everything except his home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia to President Reagan.

The AP made a similar assertion in a February 5 article on Edwards' proposed health care plan, which includes a tax increase on the wealthiest Americans:

His idea immediately opened him to criticism that he's a tax-and-spender in the mold of Walter Mondale, the 1984 Democratic presidential nominee who said he would raise taxes. In the election, Mondale suffered a 49-state defeat, losing everything except his home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia to President Reagan.

In addition, the headline to a July 27 New York Times article on Edwards's tax plan read: "Edwards Proposes Raising Capital Gains Tax," thus focusing on the tax increase included in the plan as opposed to the tax breaks. By contrast, the July 27 Wall Street Journal article (subscription required) on the plan was headlined: "Edwards's Tax Plan Focuses On Low, Middle-Income Families."

Posted In
Economy, Taxes
Network/Outlet
Los Angeles Times, Associated Press
Stories/Interests
John Edwards, 2008 Elections
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