* Biden says voters face 'stark choice' over tax policy
* Romney aide says Obama plans to stifle free enterprise
By Matt Spetalnick
WASHINGTON, April 12 U.S. Vice President Joe
Biden took direct aim at probable Republican presidential
nominee Mitt Romney on Thursday, accusing him of promoting what
amounts to a "Romney Rule" of tax protection for the rich.
Biden's campaign speech in New Hampshire was part of a
stepped-up White House effort to paint President Barack Obama's
wealthy Republican challenger as out of touch with the struggles
of middle-class Americans.
Both campaigns have moved quickly to frame the choice for
voters after Romney's chief rival, conservative Rick Santorum,
dropped out on Tuesday, giving the former Massachusetts governor
a clear path to the Republican nomination to challenge Obama in
the November election.
The Democratic president has spent much of this week touting
the "Buffett Rule," a plan to ensure that millionaires like
former executive Romney pay at least 30 percent income tax. The
proposal has almost no chance of overcoming Republican
opposition in Congress.
Biden, in the latest in a series of message-oriented
campaign appearances, called it a "stark choice" for voters.
"The Buffett Rule says that multimillionaires should pay at
least the same percentage of their income in taxes as
middle-class families do," he said in Exeter, New Hampshire. He
spoke from a podium with the slogan "Economic Fairness For The
Middle Class" written on it.
"The Romney Rule says the very wealthy should keep the tax
cuts and loopholes they have, and get an additional, new tax cut
every year that is worth more than what the average middle-class
family makes in an entire year," he said.
Romney's campaign struck back even before Biden spoke,
accusing Obama of "transparent political gimmicks to try and
distract Americans from their failure to control spending and
put Americans back to work."
"Instead of the 'Buffett Rule,' the real issue is the 'Obama
Rule,' which is President Obama's plan to raise taxes on
American families and small businesses to grow government and
stifle free enterprise," Romney campaign spokesman Andrea Saul
The Senate will take up the Buffett Rule, named for
billionaire investor and Obama supporter Warren Buffett, next
week. Obama's aides see this as a chance to hammer home
accusations that Romney himself does not pay his fair share of
The Obama campaign has placed a digital calculator on its
website allowing Americans to see how their tax rate compares to
the 13.9 percent rate Romney paid in 2010. He paid that low rate
because most of his income was from investments rather than
wages, which are taxed at a higher rate.
Romney, a former head of a private equity firm who has
touted his business background, opposes the Buffet Rule and has
said Obama is trying to change the subject from his poor
handling of the economy.
Romney wants Bush-era tax cuts for wealthier Americans that
expire at the end of the year to be extended, while Obama wants
to let them lapse.