BOSTON — Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is portraying his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren, as a “jobs destroyer” who backs $3.4 trillion in higher taxes — a portrayal Warren says distorts her proposals by including tax hikes she hasn’t formally endorsed, inventing others and offering only one side of the fiscal ledger.
While Warren supports some higher taxes, her campaign says Brown is deliberately trying to come up with an artificially high total.
“If he wants to have a debate over taxes we are happy to do it, but he has to be honest about it,” said Warren campaign spokeswoman Julie Edwards.
Brown has defended the list of tax hikes attributed to Warren.
“Her proposal for new taxes would represent the largest tax hike since World War II,” Brown said in a speech Tuesday.
One of the most contentious is what Brown describes as an $88.5 billion “war tax.”
Warren has said the nation should cover the cost of wars as they are fought instead of putting future wars on a “credit card” and pushing that cost onto future generations.
Brown’s campaign said that amounts to a “war tax.” The campaign says that under Warren’s proposal, the nation would have to cover the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars now, and it points to the Defense Department’s budget estimate of $88.5 billion for both wars in the 2013 fiscal year.
“She said that if we’re going to war, then at least everyone should pay their fair share and she’s advocating for a war tax,” Brown said when questioned by reporters Wednesday.
Asked how Brown would pay for those wars, a spokeswoman said “he doesn’t think we should hold our national security hostage to dollars and cents.”
Another point of contention is whether Warren supports increases in Social Security taxes.
Brown’s campaign points to a comment by Warren last year where she discusses the effects of raising taxes to ensure the program’s fiscal stability. It says the proposal discussed by Warren would add $1 trillion in higher taxes over 10 years.
Warren’s campaign said she was speaking hypothetically, and that Brown is taking that snippet out of context. The campaign said Warren has not proposed any Social Security tax increases.
The two campaigns also wrangled over the 2010 federal health care law, which Warren supports.
Brown’s campaign said the law adds $675 billion in new taxes, but Warren said Brown fails to take into account the new benefits it has created, including tax credits to families seeking health care.
Warren’s campaign says repealing the law would eliminate more than $1 trillion in tax credits, subsidies and support for buying health insurance. Brown’s campaign said a repeal would eliminate just $222 billion from 2012-2021 for premium tax credits for individuals.
Warren’s campaign has also accused Brown of attributing to her another tax proposal it says she hasn’t formally endorsed.
Like President Barack Obama, Warren supports ending tax cuts on small business and family incomes $250,000 – a move that would generate more than $848 billion in additional tax revenues over the next decade.
But Brown’s campaign also counts an additional $913 billion over the next decade from what it says is Warren’s support for taxing dividends and capital gains as ordinary income. His campaign cites comments she made earlier this year, where she said it’s “just wrong” for people who make money through investments to be taxed at a smaller rate than those who work for a living.
Warren’s campaign says she is not proposing taxing capital gains and dividends as ordinary income for everyone, but supports returning to the Clinton-era tax rates on capital gains of 20 percent and taxing dividends as ordinary income only for those making over $250,000 a year.
Warren said she doesn’t support tax increases for those making less than $250,000.
Warren said she does support some tax increases, including ending subsidies for oil companies and adopting the “Buffett Rule,” which says rich people shouldn’t pay taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries.
She also supports returning the estate tax to 2009 levels, which would add about $118 billion in higher taxes over the next decade. The campaign said more than 99 percent of estates would still be exempt.
Also Wednesday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed Brown, saying it appreciates his efforts to help business leaders. The group has backed other GOP candidates and is an opponent of Obama’s health care law and the Wall Street overhaul.