THE STUMP OCTOBER 21, 2011
It looks like Karl Rove and his friends at American Crossroads did not get word of Bill Clinton's claim that he was misunderstood when he expressed doubts in a Newsmax interview last month about President Obama's plan to raise taxes on the wealthy, the so-called "Buffett Rule." In his initial remarks, Clinton said he was against raising taxes "until we get this economy off the ground" and then added for good measure:
"We don't have a lot of resentment against people who are successful. We kind of like it, Americans. It's one of our best characteristics that, if we think someone earned their money fairly, we do not resent their success. Americans lost the fact that, whatever you think about this millionaire surcharge -- I don't really care because I would pay it but it won't affect me because I already paid income because I live in New York. I will pay more, but it won't solve the problem."
Rove's Crossroads group swiftly seized on Clinton's comments and built a TV ad around them attacking Obama. Realizing the damage that had been done, Clinton rushed out a statement: "The advertisement implies that I opposed the ‘Buffett Rule.’ In fact, I support both the American Jobs Act and the ‘Buffett Rule.’ I believe that it’s only fair to ask those of us in high-income groups -- who have received the primary benefits of the last decade’s economic growth and the majority of its tax cuts as well -- to contribute to solving our long term debt problem. What I did say was that the ‘Buffett Rule’ cannot solve the problem alone. Reducing the debt requires three things: more economic growth, more spending cuts, and more revenue. Right now, the most important thing is to put America back to work. That’s why I support the American Jobs Act."
Despite this attempt at clarification, Crossroads is now making clear it has every intention of continuing to make use of Clinton. In a new polling memo, Crossroads honcho Steven Law, a former top U.S. Chamber of Commerce official, laments that Obama's "class warfare" rhetoric may be having an impact. "It may be the result of larger environmental conditions, or he may be moving the needle himself, but Obama's 'tax the rich' mantra is getting traction: our poll found that 64 percent favor raising taxes on people with income over $200,000," Law writes.
But have no fear, Law says -- because Crossroads has the Big Dog on its side. "By far the strongest and clearest message against Obama's 'tax the rich agenda' comes from former President Clinton: 67 percent of respondents agree, and just 29 percent disagree, with the view: "President Clinton has said he doesn't 'believe we should be raising taxes...until we get this economy off the ground.' Not only does Clinton's position perform well, it reemphasizes the bipartisan concern about Obama's economic agenda and where it's taking us."
With friends like these...