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Obama tees off on Ryan’s tax and Medicare proposals

By Christi Parsons, Tribune Washington Bureau –

WASHINGTON —President Barack Obama took aim at Rep. Paul D. Ryan’s tax proposals Saturday, slamming the Republican vice presidential candidate for a 2010 budget plan that he said would have eliminated almost all federal taxes for wealthy investors like his running mate, Mitt Romney.

In a campaign marked by growing vitriol, Obama also accused his opponents of being dishonest in the debate over Medicare, the government health plan for seniors and the disabled.

Ryan put forward a fiscal plan that “would let Gov. Romney pay less than 1 percent in taxes each year,” Obama told an enthusiastic crowd at a high school in Windham, N.H. “And here’s the kicker—he expects you to pick up the tab.”

Obama said middle-class families with children would see their taxes go up by an average of $2,000 under plans supported by Romney and Ryan.

“They have tried to sell us this trickle-down fairy dust before,” he said.

The 2010 budget plan by Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who was at the time the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, would have eliminated all taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains, the chief sources of Romney’s annual income.

Ryan modified the plan after Romney opposed it in a GOP debate last January in Tampa, Fla., noting that he would have paid “no taxes” for the previous two years.

Romney supports eliminating taxes on interest, capital gains and dividends for those who earn less than $200,000 a year, according to his website, but supports maintaining current rates for higher-income individuals.

Obama has used Ryan, and his far-reaching budget proposals, as a focal point of attacks since Ryan joined the GOP ticket last weekend. Most of the sparring until now has focused on Ryan’s proposals to change Medicare, and Obama stepped up his criticism of the plan to partially privatize the system by issuing vouchers in the future.

“Now, the truth is, I think they know it’s not a very popular idea,” Obama said. “You can tell that because now they’re being dishonest about my plans, since they can’t sell their plans.”

Obama said his plan “saves money in Medicare by cracking down on fraud and waste and insurance company subsidies. And their plan makes seniors pay more so they can give another tax cut to millionaires and billionaires.”

Republicans called Obama’s attack unfair, noting he is focusing on tax proposals that Romney did not embrace and Ryan has since abandoned. They also dispute a recent analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, which Obama cites to support his claim that Romney’s plan would cost the middle class more.

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