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Obama v. McCain on middle class

From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
Today's Obama conference call hit on McCain: McCain would not help the middle class; Obama would.

Obama surrogates Sen. Claire McCaskill (MO) and New Hampshire congressman Paul Hodes said Obama's middle-class tax cut would be three times larger than what McCain is proposing and that a quarter of the tax cuts McCain is proposing are for those making about $3 million a year.

VIDEO: New York Times columnist Bob Herbert discusses the lack of mobility, and the overall struggle of the average, middle-class American, in the current economy. He also offers suggestions for John McCain's campaign.

McCain is "more of the same on steroids," McCaskill said, adding, "The sooner the American public gets to the facts; they'll realize finally they'll have a champion" in Sen. Obama. She added that McCain's plan would help those at the very top of the economic ladder, the "thinnest sliver" of people.

McCaskill called Obama middle-class tax cut "massive" and stressed that those making "under $150,000 a year would see no tax increase of any kind" -- not payroll tax, not capital gains, "not a single tax," Hodes said.

"I want to clear up any misconception that Sen. Obama is proposing an across-the-board capital gains tax," Hodes said, adding that only those making $250,000 or more a year would see a capital gains tax increase. Hodes said for families making up to $100,000, they could expect to see a $1,300 decrease in their taxes.

McCain, who holds a town hall in Nashua, N.H., today, "will be talking about the continuation of failed policies under Bush," Hodes said. He added that McCain's tax plan amounts to nothing more than "rewarding the wealthy."

"Obama represents a fundamental change," Hodes said, "from rewarding the wealthy to helping the middle class."

He added that "McCain offers eight years of failed policies" and said there's a "desperate need for shift in tax policies." He cited that the child poverty rate in New Hampshire -- one of those toss-up states -- increased by 47% between 2000 and 2006. He said that was the second-highest increase in the nation.

"It means working families in New Hampshire are slipping farther and farther behind," Hodes said. "Barack Obama understands the fundamental change starts with helping the middle class."

*** UPDATE *** NBC/NJ's Athena Jones adds that Hodes and McCaskill pointed to a study by the Tax Policy Center that shows Obama tax plan would provide three times more tax relief for the middle class than McCain's plan and argued that Obama is the candidate who "gets" the challenges middle class families are facing at a time when the economy is "shaky at its foundation."

The call and the focus of the town hall Obama will hold today in Wisconsin are meant to show his that campaign plans to take on McCain and the Republicans on the issue of taxes and tax relief, an area the GOP has often dominated in the past, frequently painting Democrats as "tax and spend liberals", often with success.