MANCHESTER, N.H. — President Barack Obama told supporters in swing state New Hampshire Thursday that rival Mitt Romney "took another swing" and "whiffed" when asked during a debate how he'd pay for his tax cut plan.
Surrounded by brilliant fall foliage and a crowd of about 6,000 fans in Manchester's Veterans Park, the president stuck to the same energized line of attack he's taken since the debate Tuesday night. He accused Romney of failing to explain how he would pay for the cuts without adding to the deficit or shifting the tax burden to the middle class and of trying to sell voters on a "sketchy deal."
"He took another swing at it, and he whiffed," Obama said. "Instead of telling us how he'd pay for it, he said, 'I'll let you know after the election.' And then when I asked him about it, he said, 'I'm a business man, I know the numbers will work.'
"I'm gonna let you in on a little tip — when a politician tells you that he's going to wait until after the election, it's not because their plan is so good, they don't want to spoil the secret," Obama said.
Romney is proposing to cut all income tax rates by 20 percent, eliminate the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax, and maintain and expand tax breaks for investment income. He says he would pay for his plan by reducing or eliminating tax deductions, exemptions and credits, and his campaign cites studies by conservative academics and think tanks that say the plan will spur economic growth, generating enough additional money to pay for the tax cuts.
"Today, President Obama only offered Granite State voters more misleading attacks to distract from his failed record, his reckless spending and his inability to present a discernible vision to move our country forward," Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said.
The Tax Policy Center, a Washington research group, says in a study that the tax cuts proposed by Romney would reduce federal tax revenues by about $5 trillion over 10 years. The study concludes that there aren't enough tax breaks for the wealthy to make up the lost revenue, so the proposal would either add to the deficit or shift more of the tax burden onto the middle class.
It was Obama's fifth trip this year to New Hampshire, which he won in 2008 but has been heavily contested this cycle. The latest poll — a Suffolk University/7NEWS survey conducted before Tuesday's debate — shows him even with Romney.
"In 19 days, you get to choose between the top-down policies that got us into this mess, or the policies that are getting us out," he said. "In 19 days, you can choose to turn back the clock 50 years for immigrants, or gays or women, or you can stand up and say we're going to move forward."
As he has in recent days, Obama also mocked Romney's remark during the debate that as Massachusetts governor, he received "whole binders full of women" as he sought to diversify his administration. Touting his support for programs that encourage young people to study science, engineering and math, Obama said he wants young women, as well as men, to thrive in such fields.
"See, we don't have to order up some binders to find qualified, talented, driven young women who can learn and excel in these fields right now," he said. "And when these young women graduate, I want them to earn equal pay for equal work."
Warming up the crowd before Obama's appearance, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., also repeated that Obama "didn't need a binder to appoint women" to high-ranking positions.
Shaheen, the first woman elected governor of New Hampshire and the state's first female U.S. senator, praised Obama's debate performance, saying, "We are back on track."
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