- The Washington Times - Monday, November 23, 2015

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton is targeting the middle class, promising tax breaks to hardworking Americans while rebuking her top rival, Sen. Bernard Sanders, for proposing policy that will lead to tax increases on the working class.

Mrs. Clinton, speaking Sunday at a campaign event in Iowa, proposed a tax break for those who care for aging parents and grandparents, and this month her campaign said it would detail hundreds of billions of dollars in middle-class tax cuts in the coming months.

Mrs. Clinton has pledged not to increase taxes on families earning less than $250,000 a year. For caregivers, Mrs. Clinton is proposing a tax credit up to $1,200 for those with out-of-pocket expenses of more than $6,000.

“It will help families’ budgets stretch. It will help seniors maintain independence,” Mrs. Clinton said.

Last week, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign said Mr. Sanders would raise taxes on the middle class to help pay for his policy prescriptions, most notably his single-payer health care plan.

Mr. Sanders‘ proposal would replace the Affordable Care Act with a single-payer system in which the government, not private insurers, would pay for health care claims. The Clinton campaign said Mr. Sanders‘ plan would lead to a 9 percent tax increase on the average family.

The campaign of the self-avowed socialist from Vermont shot back, saying Mr. Sanders‘ proposals would be funded with higher taxes on the wealthy and large corporations.

“He’s raising taxes to pay for relief for middle-income and working people,” Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver told reporters after the second Democratic presidential debate.

Mr. Sanders has acknowledged that his plan to offer three months of paid family medical each year will lead to a payroll tax of $1.38 per week for median-wage earners. Although Mrs. Clinton has said she supports family medical leave, he said, she hasn’t introduced any concrete policy plans.

“What is her program? What does she intend to do other than talk about it?” Mr. Sanders told the editorial board at The Des Moines Register. “If she thinks $1.38 a week is just too much to spend, let her explain that to the people of Iowa.”

Mr. Sanders said he doesn’t want to scrap Obamacare — merely expand and improve on it.

“This is just old-fashioned political gimmickry,” Mr. Sanders told the Iowa paper. “I helped write the Affordable Care Act, so I don’t want somebody suggesting I’m trying to dismantle legislation that I helped write.”

In a speech Mr. Sanders gave last week on what it means to be a Democratic socialist, he said it was his goal to “create a government that works for all and not just the few.”

Mr. Sanders has proposed broad reforms in his campaign for president, including free tuition at public universities, campaign finance reform and single-payer health care. The Wall Street Journal estimated the costs of his programs to be $18 trillion over a decade — something his campaign has denied.

“I think most of the expense that they put in there, the expenditures have to do with the single-payer health care system,” Mr. Sanders told MSNBC after the report. “They significantly exaggerated the cost of that, and they forgot to tell the American people in that article that that means eliminating the costs that you incur with private health insurance.”

Citing a University of Massachusetts analysis, Mr. Sanders said his single-payer system would lower overall health care spending by $5 trillion over 10 years.

Still, Mr. Sanders‘ policy prescriptions aren’t free — and Mrs. Clinton, who is using her own tax-break proposals to lure middle-class voters, is leveraging that angle.

Mrs. Clinton has proposed tax credits for students to cover the costs of college, for companies that hire and train disabled veterans and for families with high out-of-pocket health care expenses.

Her campaign told The Wall Street Journal that it is considering whether to introduce a broad-based middle-class tax cut, though no decision has been made. Mrs. Clinton will, however, put forth additional proposals to get rid of “corporate loopholes” and will look to simplify the tax code for individuals and businesses, her campaign said.

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