The Bush campaign put on the air this week two new TV ads that are designed to undermine support for Democrat Bill Clinton, rather than promote a positive message about Mr. Bush. The more controversial of the two is a 30-second spot challenging Mr. Clinton's claim that he will raise taxes only on the rich.
SCRIPT: A female narrator says: "Bill Clinton says he'll only tax the rich to pay for his campaign promises. But here's what Clinton economics could mean to you." A man identified as steamfitter John Canes appears on the screen, and the narrator says: "$1,088 more in taxes." He is followed by a woman identified as Lori Huntoon, scientist. The narrator says: "$2,072 more in taxes." The narrator continues: "100 leading economists say his plan means higher taxes . . . and bigger deficits." A couple identified as Julie and Gary Schwartz, sales representatives, appear. The narrator says: "$1,191 more in taxes." For a man identified as Wyman Winston, housing lender, the narrator says, "$2,072 in taxes." The narrator concludes: "You can't trust Clinton economics. It's wrong for you. It's wrong for America."
VISUALS: The narrator's comments are printed on the screen as she speaks to reinforce the message. The steamfitter is holding a large wrench. The female scientist is holding a hard hat and looks as if she could be a construction worker. The couple are both in dress-for-success business suits with briefcases. The housing lender is a prosperous-looking man holding a file folder. The lender is black; the others are white.
FACTS: Mr. Bush is trying to highlight the view of most experts that the numbers in Mr. Clinton's economic plan don't add up. But his claim that middle-income Americans would have to pay higher taxes under Mr. Clinton's plan is based entirely on assumptions made by the Bush campaign that are disputed by Mr. Clinton. The figures used are completely arbitrary. And the ad ignores Mr. Clinton's promise to lower taxes on the middle class, not raise them.
Mr. Clinton has said he intends to raise $150 billion in new revenue over four years through a variety of means, including raising the top tax rate to 36 percent from 31 percent on households earning more than $200,000 a year in adjusted gross income. His aides say that one step would produce about $48 billion.
Bush aides argue that the other potential sources of revenue Mr. Clinton cites, including a proposal to force foreign-owned corporations to pay higher taxes here, can't possibly make up the difference. They also say Mr. Clinton has made so many other promises without clear financing sources, including a health plan guaranteeing universal coverage, that he would have to raise taxes on the middle class to pay for them all.
ANALYSIS: The Bush campaign is trying to frighten voters away from Mr. Clinton by raising the unsubstantiated specter of higher taxes for the middle class. But he faces two problems: The president's own credibility on taxes is low since he broke his no-new-taxes pledge of 1988, and many voters are saying this year that they are more concerned about the deficit than about higher taxes.