(CNN) - They may be backing the same legislative measure, but Democrats weren’t cheering Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney Monday for coming out in support of extending the payroll tax cut.
“Mitt Romney proved once again he is no ‘man of steadiness and constancy,’” Ben LaBolt, press secretary for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, said. “After belittling the middle-class tax cut the president proposed by calling it a ‘little Band-Aid,’ and saying he ‘is not looking to put money in people’s pockets – that’s the other party,’ Mitt Romney flip-flopped and now says he’s for it.”
The inconsistency charge came after Romney backed the payroll tax cut extension Monday on a conservative radio talk show. The former Massachusetts governor told host Michael Medved he’d “like to see the payroll tax cut extended,” citing the help it would provide middle-class families.
Romney has never been as firm on the issue, though he never explicitly said he did not support it. When the issue has come up previously, Romney said he wanted to see longer-term solutions to America’s economic problems rather than short-term fixes like extending the payroll tax cut.
In his economic plan, Romney points to lower payroll taxes as a potentially positive solution, noting the need for the tax to be properly structured. But he calls the tax cut “no substitute for the longer-term structural reforms to our tax system that are required to place the economy on sound footing for a recovery.”
The “Band-Aid” comment cited by Obama’s re-election campaign came during a debate in October, in which Romney reiterated his goal of longer-term economic solutions.
“If you give a temporary change to the payroll tax and you say we’re going to extend this for a year or two, employers do not hire people for a year or two,” Romney said at the debate. “They make an investment in a person that goes over a long period of time.”
Romney didn’t say then if he supported the payroll tax cut extension, but said he was aiming toward longer-term goals.
“I don’t want temporary little Band-Aids,” Romney said. “I want to fundamentally restructure America’s foundation economically.”
In a statement, Romney campaign spokesman Andrea Saul said Romney had been consistent in advocating longer-term solutions.
"Governor Romney has never met a tax cut he didn't like," Saul said. "He has made it clear that he does not believe that by itself the payroll tax cut will create the type of permanent long term change that is needed to turn the economy around. Instead of taking a seventeen day vacation this month while millions of Americans are out of work, President Obama ought to focus all of his time and energy on getting our economy moving again."
Defending his consistency on the issue, the campaign specifically pointed to a November interview with the editorial board of the Nashua Telegraph, in which Romney said a payroll tax cut extension is a "positive thing" but still a "modest proposal" to fix the economy.
"Those modest proposals are not going to get America's economy going again, or return to America the level of competitiveness that will allow us to out compete anyone in the world," Romney told the New Hampshire newspaper.