For Carla Young, the middle-class tax cut is helping her to pay for the basics – like a transmission repair for her car so she can keep going to work for the overnight shift as a nursing home aide.
The single mother of three boys from Bethlehem said she isn’t so sure she would be able to afford the car repairs if she lost the $3,500 in tax breaks that supporters of President Obama say are threatened by Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
“I don’t think so,” she said. “And I’m working full time.”
Young was one of four people who joined Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan at the Obama For America office in South Bethlehem in a made-for-media roundtable discussion on the importance of the so-called middle-class tax cuts and the difference in tax policies advanced by Romney and Obama.
- The tax cuts include a reduction of $2,200 a year in payroll taxes on a typical family of four.
- A typical Pennsylvania family is currently saving $3,500 a year in federal taxes thanks to the cuts, which also include child tax credits and mortgage interest deductions.
- 4.9 million families in Pennsylvania are currently benefiting from the tax cut.
- The Obama campaign also points out that Romney’s economic plan currently calls for specific tax increases on 630,000 middle-class Pennsylvanians.
The president wants to make the cuts to families and individuals who make less than $250,000 a year permanent, while allowing the tax rate for families and individuals who make more to go back to what they were while Bill Clinton was president – a little more than 39 percent.
However, Romney and the Republicans are “holding the tax cuts hostage to prolong the tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires,” Callahan said.
Republicans counter that it is the millionaires and billionaires who drive the country’s job creation engine.
However, Ron Morris, owner of Mercantile Home, an Easton shop that features locally handcrafted handbags, home décor, clothing and art, said the savings from the payroll tax cuts have helped him to comfortably hire more people for the store.
“We felt a lot better about taking that leap,” he said. “You can breathe a little easier.”
Sergio Rivas, a teacher from Bethlehem Township, said the tax cut has helped him to afford home repairs and enabled him to at least try to put aside some money to send his two sons – now 15 and 13 – to college.
“Paying for it is the only issue,” Rivas said. “They want to go. I want them to go. The little bit I’m saving is not going to be enough. We need every little bit of help we can get to send them to college.”
Hilary Smith, a freelance writer from Lower Macungie and mother of two with one on the way, said the extra $40 a week from the tax cut has enabled her family to keep paying bills on time and enjoy an occasional night out. But the current fight in Washington over whether the cuts will continue leaves her frustrated.
“There is uncertainty in knowing how much to set aside for taxes for next year,” Smith said. “If you have extra money, you don’t know whether you can spend it. It’s not fair."
Romney “has no plan for the middle class at all,” Smith said. “On his Website, he calls employees ‘human capital.’ There’s a disconnect with average, every-day Americans. He says the way to get rid of the student loan problem is to make student loans less accessible.
“If you don’t like Obama, don’t vote for someone who doesn’t even care.”