MANCHESTER, N.H. — A Democratic president would raise taxes and ravage the economy, GOP candidate Rudy Giuliani said Saturday.
The former New York City mayor said he would lower taxes, make permanent President Bush's tax cuts and eliminate inheritance taxes.
"The Democrats believe in government when they have a choice. Republicans believe in people when we have a choice. ... The Republican Party is the party of the people. The Democratic Party is the party of the government," Giuliani said at a town hall meeting. He appeared with former presidential candidate Steve Forbes, who is a campaign adviser, and former Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci.
In his speech, Giuliani paid little attention to his GOP rivals while taking on the Democratic candidates.
"If you've never run anything, you sometimes have unrealistic ideas," he said, noting none of the leading Democratic contenders has served as an executive. "This is not a place for on-the-job training."
Giuliani criticized Democrats who want to repeal Bush's cuts. "When it's working, let's change it. That's a brilliant philosophy. It sounds little bit like Iraq," Giuliani said to laughter.
He also took a shot at Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a top contender for the Democratic party's nomination.
"'We must take things away from you for the common good,'" Giuliani said, mocking Clinton.
"Do you understand what that implies? No, it's not Karl Marx. What she's saying in that is that 'We know better, the government knows better.'"
A Clinton spokeswoman said Giuliani misunderstands the situation.
"If he's attacking Senator Clinton for wanting to change President Bush's economic policies and his Iraq policy, he's right. She will," Kathleen Strand said. "Senator Clinton knows that the Bush-Cheney economic policies are wrong for New Hampshire families and their stay-the-course strategy in Iraq is wrong for America."
The cornerstone of Giuliani's campaign has been tax cuts, greater freedom over spending and less government. He said people would face $3 trillion in tax increase over the next decade unless Bush's tax cuts are made permanent.
A spokeswoman for Democratic candidate John Edwards said Giuliani's proposals will only hurt taxpayers.
"Rudy Giuliani is completely out of touch with New Hampshire and America if he thinks continuing with George Bush's failed economic policies makes any sense," Kate Bedingfield said. "Instead of Giuliani tax cuts for the wealthy and the super rich, John Edwards believes we need middle class tax cuts and universal health care and he is fighting for those things every single day."
Giuliani also advocated a permanent child tax credit and lower marginal tax rates. He wants to tie marginal tax rates to the current levels and perhaps cut the rates further. He favors linking the alternative minimum tax to the rate of inflation, which Giuliani said would stop tax increases on 30 million people by 2010.
This tax originally was designed to make sure that the wealthiest could not use tax breaks or deductions to eliminate their entire tax liability. It is not adjusted for inflation.
Inflation and recent tax cuts push more and more taxpayers into the grasp of the minimum tax each year, depriving about 4 million tax filers from taking full advantage of various deductions and tax credits.
Giuliani told his audience that he is the best option to help them have more control over their own money. As part of his standard stump speech, Giuliani routinely reminds voters he cut taxes 23 times.
"New York City's taxes were way too high," Giuliani said. "We were taxing people out of the city. We were making the choice for them."
Giuliani, who has strong national polling results but trails former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in New Hampshire, planned to "give the death tax the death penalty." The so-called "death tax" taxes wealth passed on through inheritance. The current rate is set at 45 percent through 2009, but it drops to nothing in 2010 and jumps to 55 percent in 2011.
"The only thing I can think of is that they wanted to create an incentive for death in 2010," said Giuliani, who said he wants to keep that rate zero.
While Giuliani cut taxes 23 times, his record has come into question.
Giuliani initiated only 15 cuts and opposed one of the largest, accepting it only after a five-month negotiation with the city council. Seven cuts started at the state level. One was initiated by the council.
The campaign said the minutiae doesn't matter to voters; the net result was 23 cuts to taxes under a Democratic-controled council, a boost to the economy and help for New York City families.
A spokesman for the Democratic National Committee said Giuliani's approach is wrong for voters.
"Rudy Giuliani and the rest of the Republican candidates seem to be the last people in America who think the voters are looking for more of the same failed Bush agenda," Damien LaVera said. "If he ever stopped exaggerating his record and pandering to the right wing, Giuliani would realize that the American people have already rejected the Bush agenda and aren't looking to sign up for four more years.