MANCHESTER, N.H. - Democratic presidential hopefuls Howard Dean and John Kerry clashed again Wednesday over whether to repeal all of President Bush's tax cuts.
In an exchange with a Saint Anselm College student about college costs, Dean again argued for repealing them all, saying the cuts left little money for grants and loans that could help pay tuition.
"That's why it's so ridiculous to say we'll keep the middle-class tax cuts," Dean said. "There were no middle-class tax cuts."
That was the opening Kerry's camp needed.
"This is simply another extraordinary gaffe from Howard Dean," the Kerry campaign responded. "Democrats in Congress fought to give millions of American families more than half a trillion dollars in much deserved tax relief and somehow Dr. Dean seems unaware. Howard Dean is either simply out of touch with the lives of middle class Americans or he is willing to say anything to justify the indefensible political position of raising taxes on the middle class by thousands of dollars per family."
Kerry has called for repealing the tax cuts for those making more than $200,000 a year while maintaining the child care tax credit and the elimination of the marriage tax penalty. The Massachusetts senator has described a New Hampshire couple who would pay $3,000 more in taxes if the cuts were fully repealed — a conclusion the Dean campaign said was based on the same misleading calculations Bush used to defend the cuts.
"It is a sad day for the Democratic Party when Senator Kerry continues to use GOP propaganda to distort the views of Governor Dean," Dean's campaign said in a statement. "Kerry should let the American people know that they were misled by President Bush, instead of continuing to use Bush's manipulated numbers to mislead them about another Democrat."
Dean insists full repeal is necessary to pay for expanding health insurance, homeland security and job creation. He also argues that increases in property taxes will erase any benefit middle-class taxpayers received from the Bush cuts.
The former Vermont governor has become the favorite target of rival campaigns hoping to stop his surge in New Hampshire and other key states and has spent the last week week defending his statements on the Middle East, trade, race and Medicare.
Can we talk here, Howard Dean? Do you not get that low and middle income folks are struggling? I don't think, as one of those folks who has benefited from Bush's tax cut's for the rich, that you really understand the outlook of the low and middle income families of America. John Kerry understand's, John Kerry has a plan to help those struggling Americans. That's why I support John Kerry!