Elections 2012: Presidential Campaign Gets Dirtier With Tax Disputes and Welfare Ad

The rhetoric, charges and counter-charges flew fast and thick Tuesday as the presidential election campaign continued on its sharply negative trajectory.

Following a weekend imbroglio over Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s claim that a former Romney associate told him Romney paid no taxes in past years, the campaign has veered into a political mud pile that emphasizes dirtying the opponent first. Photo: Adam Glanzman/Flickr

Mitt Romney once again told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to “put up or shut up” about his taxes, according to The Huff Post.

Last month, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said that a former Bain investor told him that Mitt Romney didn’t pay taxes for 10 years.

“Well the message I gave Harry Reid was put up or shut up. I don’t really believe that he’s got any kind of a credible source,” Romney told Fox News on Tuesday.

“I don’t know who gave him this line of reasoning, whether it came from the White House or the DNC or a staffer, but he ought to say where it came from and then we can find out whether that person has any credibility. I know they don’t because of course I paid,” Romney said.

He added that Democrats are simply trying to distract from their economic record.

“Well I think Harry Reid has lost a lot of credibility on a lot of fronts,” Romney said. “This is just one more front that I think is a very unfortunate and sad course.”

Meanwhile, Romney’s new ad that began airing on Tuesday drew a lot of negative responses from top Democrats, including Bill Clinton.

The ad is part of a new Romney campaign push focused on welfare, part of an ongoing effort to paint Obama as a big-government liberal out of step with former president Bill Clinton.

“In 1996, President Clinton and a bipartisan Congress helped end welfare as we know it,” the narrator says. “But on July 12th, President Obama quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements.”

“Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check,”  the ad concludes.

White House spokesman Jay Carney responded to the attack, telling reporters that the ad was “categorically false” and “blatantly dishonest.”

“This administration’s policy will strengthen the (welfare) program by giving states the opportunity to employ more effective ways,” Carney said.

“This advertisement is categorically false and it is blatantly dishonest,” Carney said. “This administration’s policy will strengthen the program by giving states the opportunity to employ more effective ways.”

Bill Clinton issued a statement Tuesday evening: “Governor Romney released an ad today alleging that the Obama administration had weakened the work requirements of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act. That is not true.”

“The recently announced waiver policy was originally requested by the Republican governors of Utah and Nevada to achieve more flexibility in designing programs more likely to work in this challenging environment,” Clinton said, referring to the fact that the 1996 reform ended welfare as a federal entitlement and transformed it into a program run by states within certain federal rules.

Last month, the Obama administration said that it would allow states to apply for waivers from some of the rules if states had better ways of getting welfare recipients into jobs.

What is more, while the Romney campaign has suggested the Obama administration made its welfare decision to foster a Democratic “culture of dependency” by making it easier for people to stay on welfare, Clinton pointed out that two Republican-controlled states had requested the waivers.

“The Romney ad is especially disappointing because, as governor of Massachusetts, he requested changes in the welfare reform laws that could have eliminated time limits altogether,” Clinton said. “We need a bipartisan consensus to continue to help people move from welfare to work even during these hard times, not more misleading campaign ad.

Share this article

We welcome comments that advance the story directly or with relevant tangential information. We try to block comments that use offensive language, all capital letters or appear to be spam, and we review comments frequently to ensure they meet our standards. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Coinspeaker Ltd.