President Obama has coined a new political catchphrase, linking his Republican rival to an inverted version of the English folk hero who robbed the rich to give to the poor. In Obama's new formulation, Romney is doing the opposite by embracing a tax plan that would offet slashing taxes on affluent Americans by raising taxes on the middle class.
"It's like Robin Hood in reverse. It's Romney Hood," Obama said during a $500-a-head event in Stamford, Conn., the less expensive of his two Monday fundraisers in the state. (The other, at $35,800-a-head, was at the Westport home of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, and was definitely not for the type of people the original Robin Hood wanted to help.)
The Obama campaign has sought for months to offer voters a clear-cut choice between the president's economic proposals, which would boost spending in areas such as research and education, and Republican economic precepts, which Obama charge with preserving a status quo in which the wealthy prosper while middle-class Americans suffer.
A recent analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has given the Obama camp ammunition. The study fleshed out some of Romney's proposals -- including lowering marginal tax rates, reducing taxes on investments and eliminating the estate tax -- and determined that, as a result, households earning under $200,000 would need to pay more to prevent the government from seeing less tax revenue than it currently does.
While those households would see an average tax increase of 1.2 percent, according to the study, those earning more than $1 million would see their after-tax income jump by an average of 4.1 percent.
The Romney camp has dismissed the study as inaccurate and biased, but Obama has embraced it, as his invocation of the Romney Hood line demonstrates.
In one sense, the "Romney Hood" and "Obamacare" lines encapsulate the respective campaign's approaches. Romney has embraced a vision in which an intrusive and overreaching government is more often the problem than a solution. He has advocated cutting taxes and eliminating regulations, and his regular denunciations of "Obamacare" crystallize the Republican Party's critique of the health care overhaul as a sprawling manifestation of nanny-state liberalism.
The "Romney Hood" label describes the opposite: the Obama campaign's argument that, by doing away with regulations (including the entire Affordable Care Act, which Romney has vowed to repeal if elected) and lowering taxes, Republicans would advance a failed philosophy that disproportionately benefits the rich. While Obama has been careful to praise the free market, he has centered his campaign on the notion that government can and must play a role in ensuring economic fairness.