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Obama campaign: Romney, Santorum policies would grow deficit


This news story was published on February 22, 2012.
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By Kathleen Hennessey and Michael A. Memoli, Tribune Washington Bureau –

WASHINGTON — In yet another sign of Rick Santorum’s rising status, President Barack Obama’s campaign is taking aim at the former Pennsylvania senator.

Obama’s camp for months has primarily targeted Mitt Romney, indicating that despite the wild twists and turns in the Republican nominating process, the president’s advisers believe the former Massachusetts governor would be their eventual opponent.

But a campaign memo released Tuesday morning suggests some hedging on that point. The memo notably bashes the fiscal policies of both Romney and Santorum, who took the lead in some national polls last week.

“As Sen. Santorum has risen in the polls, the scrutiny of his policies will follow,” campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt told reporters when asked why Santorum was included in the campaign’s fiscal critique. “While both Gov. Romney and Sen. Santorum both claim to be budget-cutters, they’ve both introduced proposals that would lead to massive increases in the deficit. So we thought it was appropriate to raise those questions today.”

The memo claims Romney’s tax and budget proposals would add $175 billion a year to the deficit. Santorum’s proposals, which call for large tax cuts, would add $990 billion to the deficit in 2015, the memo said, citing a study from the Tax Policy Center.

Romney has said he will cut $500 billion from the federal budget by 2016. Santorum has called for a lower income, capital gains, dividend and corporate tax, while cutting $5 trillion in government spending in five years.

“Gov. Mitt Romney and Sen. Rick Santorum claim they will champion spending cuts deep enough to cut taxes and balance the budget,” James Kvaal, the campaign’s policy director writes in the memo. “In fact, they have both proposed irresponsible and reckless tax plans that would drive up the deficit by trillions of dollars, while their claims to balance the budget through spending cuts are completely unrealistic.”

As Santorum has made more pointed attacks on the president — including his recent statement that Obama subscribed to a “phony theology” on the environment — LaBolt also criticized the Republican for focusing “on issues that divide Americans rather than issues that the American people are focused on right now,” like the economy.

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