(CBS News) WASHINGTON - Responding to criticism that Republicans are opposed to tax cuts for only the wealthy, Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, said President Obama has raised taxes on low-income voters.
Eight tax increases in the health care law "directly hit low-income people," Norquist said Sunday on "Face the Nation." "The president didn't keep his word when he said he wouldn't raise taxes on people earning less than $200,000 a year."
Neera Tanden, who runs the liberal Center for American Progress, said on the same program that "it's hard to see which falsehood to take on."
"The Affordable Care Act is a $600 billion tax cut for health care, tax cuts to middle income families," she said.
More broadly, Tanden defended the president's tax plan. "The president supports tax cuts. It's about making the wealthy pay their fair share, taking those tax cuts at the highest level and ensuring those people are paying their fair share as part of a balanced approach."
Norquist, who is author of the anti-tax pledge which has been signed by nearly all Republican members of Congress, said Mr. Obama raised taxes on lower-income people his first month in office with the cigarette tax.
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"Sixteen days into his presidency, 16 days, he raised taxes on people who smoke cigarettes," he said. "It only took him two weeks to screw lower-income voters. He did not tell the truth. He raised taxes."
Tanden turned the focus of the debate from the president to Mr. Obama's Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. "The truth here is that the only person who actually has a plan to raise taxes on middle-income voters ... is Mitt Romney, whose tax plan is giving a massive tax cut to the wealthy and will pay for it by increasing taxes by $2,000 on middle-income families."
When asked about Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., who indicated that Norquist's anti-tax pledge might be too limiting, Norquist told host Bob Schieffer that he expects Graham will keep his commitment to the voters of South Carolina despite his comments.
Norquist defended his pledge, saying that taxes can be increased as long as others are decreased to offset it.