Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
This is the eighth story of an 11-article series leading up to the Nov. 6 presidential election that will break down the issues dominating political debates. Check back next Thursday for our segment on immigration.
Regardless of political affiliation, many Americans can agree that they don’t want to pay higher taxes. Promising not to raise taxes is a broad, favorable argumentative tool used by candidates during election season to win voters and attempt to alienate their opponent, but one Ohio State professor said it’s not up to them anyway.
In a speech to 15,000 on OSU’s campus Tuesday, President Barack Obama used the words “tax,” “taxes” and “taxpayer” 21 times in his roughly 20 minute address according to a transcript from the Office of the White House Press Secretary.
In his remarks, Obama criticized Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for his $5 trillion tax cut plan that Obama said “favors the wealthiest Americans” and caters to the “top 1 percent.”
However, at a campaign event Wednesday in Mount Vernon, Ohio, Romney promised not to raise any taxes if elected president.
“I will not raise taxes on small business, I won’t raise taxes on business, I won’t raise taxes on middle income people – I won’t raise taxes at all on the American people,” Romney told the crowd.
Obama told the crowd Romney’s plan to cut the nearly $16 trillion national debt would be impossible if enacted.
“Gov. Romney’s tax plan either means blowing up the deficit or raising taxes on middle-class families – one or the other, pick your poison,” he said.
In response to his comments about Romney’s plan, Obama said Tuesday the U.S. needs to stop subsidizing tax cuts to oil companies and stop rewarding tax breaks to companies that outsource jobs.
Obama has signed off on 18 tax cuts on small businesses over the last four years, and about 160 million American workers are paying a reduced payroll tax. Middle-class American families have seen tax reductions that average $3,600 over the past four years, according to data from the White House.
Obama has urged Congress to extend President George W. Bush-era tax cuts including one for families on their first $250,000 of taxable income. Romney has been calling for a 20 percent reduction in all tax brackets from Bush-era rates. This would reduce the tax rate by 2 percent for those who pay a bottom-bracket rate and reduce the top-bracket rate by 7 percent.
According to Romney’s campaign website, he plans to make across-the-board tax cuts by 20 percent “in marginal rates” and “Eliminate taxes for taxpayers with AGI (adjusted gross income) below $200,000 on interest, dividends and capital gains.”
“Republicans believe that every American should get to pay lower taxes,” said Drew Stroemple, president of the OSU College Republicans.
OSU finance professor Stephen Buser said in an email that despite promises of lowering the national debt and reducing taxes, the candidates’ campaign plans are not enough.
“Thus far I have not heard any specific strategies from either candidate that could produce budget cuts at a level needed to have a significant impact on the federal budget issue,” he said.
Buser worked with The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation after Obama was elected as part of the transition team to the new administration.
Buser said that the candidates can make plans about what they want to do about lowering or raising taxes, but ultimately the decision isn’t up to them.
“For better or worse, the issue of taxation is up to Congress,” he said. “A president can express his or her views but does not get even one vote on the matter. I am not aware of any current discussion of this issue by Congress.”
Students should be concerned and engaged in political discussions about taxes, Buser said, and should be paying attention to what the candidates are saying about their own or their opponent’s tax plans.
“As members of the next generation of taxpayers today’s students will inherit both the best and the worst consequences of current actions or inactions,” he said. “Second, current students might very well find themselves in the front lines of the budget battle.”
Romney was last in Columbus Sept. 26, when he visited Westerville South High School in Westerville, Ohio, about 20 minutes north of Columbus.
Romney made a stop in Delaware, Ohio, Wednesday and is scheduled to visit Lancaster, Ohio, about 40 minutes from Columbus, on Friday.
Centre College in Danville, Ky., will be hosting a vice presidential debate at 8 p.m. Thursday between Vice President Joe Biden and Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan.
Romney has not yet visited OSU, but his son Craig Romney was on campus Saturday.
Tuesday’s visit to the Oval was Obama’s fifth to OSU in two years.
Results of a Wednesday seven-day rolling Gallup poll have Obama in the lead among registered voters with 50 percent, and Romney trailing at 45 percent with less than a month until the Nov. 6 presidential election.
Ally Marotti contributed to this article.