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For first time, Obama campaign targets Santorum, too

 

While Rick Santorum's positions on social issues and religion have been getting plenty of attention, President Barack Obama's campaign team took specific aim today at his economic policies, discussing both Santorum and Mitt Romney's plans for tackling the deficit. 

The conference call with reporters was one of the first times that Team Obama has taken explicit aim at Santorum and placed him at the same level as chief rival Romney. Obama backers alleged that both Romney and Santorum's tax cut and defense spending proposals would actually add trillions to the national debt over 10 years. 

Campaign economic advisor and Harvard professor Jeffrey Liebman estimated that Romney's proposals to boost both corporate tax cuts and defense spending -- plus relatively muted spending cuts -- would raise the deficit to at least 6 percent of GDP in 2016. He said the same number could be as high as "7, 8, 9 percent of GDP" for Santorum. 

Obama's proposal, his team says, would reduce the deficit to just 3 percent of GDP in the same year. That's in comparison to a current CBO "alternative scenario" -- which assumes the extension of the Bush tax cuts -- that would put the deficit at 5 percent of GDP in 2016.

On the call, campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt declined to re-address the recent controversy over Santorum's "theology" comments, saying that the campaign responded to it over the weekend. 

(LaBolt last week called Santorum's comment "the latest low in a Republican primary campaign that has been fueled by distortions, ugliness, and searing pessimism and negativity.")

"What's clear is that Sen. Santorum is focused on issues that divide Americans rather than the issues that the American people are focused on right now, which is who's going to restore our economic security for the middle class and who's going to create jobs now," he added today.

*** UPDATE *** The Romney campaign sends along this response: "President Obama is in no position to criticize Mitt Romney's proposals to cut taxes and restore fiscal responsibility," spokesman Ryan Williams said. "After all, this is the President who just proposed the largest tax increase in American history and has given us four straight trillion-dollar budget deficits.  Middle-income Americans have been crushed by the Obama economy and millions of American workers have just given up looking for work.  This was the president who told us that if he didn't fix the economy in three years, he'd be looking at a one term proposition.  It's time to collect."