WASHINGTON Oct 17 In what amounted to a do-over
on the subject of wealth and fairness, President Barack Obama
took aim on Tuesday night at Republican presidential candidate
Mitt Romney's personal finances, his tax plan and his
once-private comment about the "47 percent" of Americans who
don't pay income taxes.
Obama's aggressive approach on those issues contrasted
sharply with his restraint in their first matchup in Denver on
Oct. 3, when he avoided entirely the now-famous 47 percent
comment, taped at a fundraiser in May.
Obama zeroed in on Romney's 14 percent tax rate, the roughly
$20 million he earned in a recent year and his investments in
China. He cheekily joked during their second debate at Hofstra
University in Hempstead, New York, that Romney's pension was
likely fatter than his.
"When he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the
country considered themselves victims, who refuse personal
responsibility, think about who he was talking about," Obama
said Tuesday, noting many in that group who are the elderly,
veterans and students.
And once again, he went after Romney's tax plans which the
president said favored the rich.
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and co-founder of
investment firm Bain Capital, defended his proposal to slash all
Americans' tax rates by 20 percent.
Romney's own - albeit indirect - reference to the 47 percent
remarks came as he responded to a question about misperceptions
held about him. He said he cared "about 100 percent of the
American people. I want 100 percent of the American people to
have a bright and prosperous future."
Romney also pledged that the top 5 percent wealthiest
Americans would continue to pay 60 percent of all federal income
That is roughly the amount of federal income taxes that the
richest 5 percent pay, according to the Tax Policy Center.
The 47 percent figure also comes from that research group,
although it has been widely noted that many of those individuals
are either senior citizens or the working poor using popular tax
Sticking to his previous tax policy statements , Romney
p ledged to cut taxes for the middle class but keep the wealthy
paying the same share of taxes.
One undecided voter, among those selected to question the
candidates Tuesday night, asked Romney how he would fund the
cut, reflecting a frequent criticism of his proposal.
"I'm going to bring rates down across the board for
everybody, but I'm going to limit deductions and exemptions and
credits, particularly for people at the high end," Romney said.
During a squabble about whether Romney had investments in
Chinese companies, Romney said his investments were managed by a
Romney asked Obama if he knew what was in his retirement
"It's not as big as yours," Obama said, in a dig at Romney's