Clinton Says Tax Rates Like Romney’s Won’t Help Economy

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton speaks at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York on Sunday. Photographer: Peter Foley/Bloomberg

Former President Bill Clinton said tax rates such as the one paid by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney last year aren’t helping the U.S. economic recovery.

“I don’t think we can get out of this hole we’re in if people at that income level only pay 13, 14 percent,” Democrat Clinton said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” today. “It’d be interesting, I think, for the American people to see how the ordinary income years were treated, but apparently we’re not going to get to see that.”

Romney paid $1.9 million in taxes on $13.7 million of income in 2011 for a 14.1 percent rate, according to tax returns he released last week. The former Massachusetts governor and his wife make most of their income from investing an estimated $250 million fortune, and much of that income is taxed at a top rate of 15 percent, rather than the top rate of 35 percent for wages.

Robert Gibbs, a senior adviser to Democratic President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, also weighed in today on Romney’s tax returns during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”

“The American people deserve to know a lot more about Mitt Romney’s finances because he hasn’t been straight with the American people about those finances and he hasn’t been straight with the American people about what’s going to happen with their taxes,” Gibbs said. “Middle class families, as a result of the promises Mitt Romney has made, are going to see their taxes go up, while he’s going to cut taxes for people just like him.”

Tax Cut Extension

Clinton, 66, said that he doesn’t support a temporary extension of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for wealthier Americans. He said that if Obama were to extend the cuts another year for top earners “one more time would put him in a very disadvantageous position and make it impossible for us to get a reasonable budget deal.”

The U.S. faces a so-called fiscal cliff in January, when $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts over 10 years will start and the Bush-era tax cuts will expire, unless Congress breaks its deadlock and agrees on a debt plan. Obama and Democrats propose letting tax cuts expire for top earners.

Clinton said the impasse in Congress may be loosened after the Nov. 6 elections, which he predicts Obama will win even amid heavy spending by groups such as super political action committees that support Romney.

Republican Super-PACS

“The Republican super-PACs and the Romney campaign combined will outspend the Democrats probably two-and-a-half, three-to-one from here on in,” Clinton said, adding that Obama is “winning and winning in the swing states.”

Obama polls 50 percent among likely voters in three swing states, according to a survey that shows him pulling ahead of Romney in many of the election’s battlegrounds.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist College poll conducted Sept. 16-18 gave Obama identical five-percentage point leads, 50 percent to 45 percent, in Colorado and Wisconsin, and an eight-point advantage in Iowa, 50 percent to 42 percent.

Court battles over voting rules are taking place in swing states including Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin. Backers of restrictions such as requiring a government-issued identification card with a photo argue that the measures are needed to combat voting fraud. Opponents say the true purpose is to suppress voting by minorities and lower-income people, who tend to vote Democratic and are less likely to have identification cards such as driver’s licenses.

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