ATLANTA — Democratic U.S. Rep. John Barrow attacked Republican challenger Lee Anderson for supporting a national sales tax during what was to have been a debate Sunday.
Anderson didn’t show up; he had said repeatedly that he would not. Instead, Barrow took questions from journalists in a forum held by the Atlanta Press Club.
He used the first question to vow to protect the middle class and to tar Anderson for backing a proposal by failed Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain dubbed 9-9-9 for its rates on corporate, personal income and sales taxes.
Barrow said 84 percent of Americans would wind up with a tax increase if such a proposal became law.
“The last thing I think we need is another tax from the federal government, and that’s a big difference between me and my opponent,” he said.
He said he would instead eliminate certain tax deductions in order to lower the overall income tax rate, but he pledged not to end the home mortgage deduction.
“That’s one of the things that’s grown the middle class,” he said.
Alternatively, he said, he would eliminate or reduce the deductions businesses can take for expenses related to closing a plant when it moves production overseas.
When asked whether he would want President Obama to campaign for him in the district, Barrow dodged, saying he and Obama had to run on their own records.
Anderson had said he wanted Barrow to go on television to say whether he was voting for Obama before he would agree to a debate.
Barrow listed times when he voted with Republicans in Congress in opposing Obama’s health care overhaul and the Wall Street bailout and in support of the Keystone pipeline and a balanced-
“That’s the record I’m running on,” he said.
Barrow has tried to put distance between himself and Obama as a way to sway the conservative majority in the newly designed district. He described himself Sunday, as he has on the stump, as someone who can work with either party.