President Barack Obama Friday continued to press Congress to enact measures to extend Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class.
Obama, flanked by middle class families who would benefit from his tax plan in an auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, said that rebuilding the nation's economic strength needs to begin with the middle class.
The Senate has approved a measure based on Obama's plan that would extend income tax cuts, due to expire at the end of the year, on income under $250,000.
But the House this week rejected the measure in favor or a bill to extend all of the tax rates, arguing that failing to extend the top income tax rates would amount to a tax on small businesses.
"It's so disappointing that, so far at least, House Republicans have refused to follow the Senate's example," Obama said. "On Wednesday, they voted to hold these middle-class tax cuts hostage unless we also spend a trillion dollars over the next decade on tax breaks for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans."
He added, "In fact, it's a little worse than that because their plan would actually raise taxes on 25 million hardworking American families by about $1,000 each."
Obama also indirectly criticized his Republican rival Mitt Romney, for advancing a tax plan that would go even further.
Obama, likely because the event was considered an official presidential function rather than a campaign event, did not refer to Romney by name but instead criticized "one plan at least" that would, according to an independent analysis, give even more in tax cuts to the wealthy while requiring middle class families to pay more.
"I just think we've got our priorities skewed if the notion is that we give tax breaks to folks who don't need them and, to help pay for that, we tax folks who are already struggling to get by," the president said. "That's not how you grow an economy."
He added, "The people standing behind me should not have to pay more just so the wealthiest Americans can pay less. That's not just top-down economics, that's upside-down economics."
Obama also for the first time personally emphasized a point made in recent days by his aides and allies that extending the tax cuts for income below $250,000 would also continue to benefit those who make more.
"We're saying nobody's income taxes go up on the first $250,000 of their income," he said. "So even somebody who makes more than $250,000 is still getting a tax break on their first $250,000."
He added, "Even somebody who's worth $200 million -- on that first $250,000 they're still paying lower taxes."
Obama also addressed economic figures released by the Labor Department Friday that showed the economy had continued to add jobs in the private sector, though he did not mention the uptick in the overall unemployment rate that was also reported.
"This morning, we learned that our businesses created 172,000 new jobs in the month of July," Obama said, referring to the private sector job gains and not including the loss of 9,000 government positions for the month. "That means that we've now created 4.5 million new jobs over the last 29 months -- and 1.1 million new jobs so far this year."
He added, "But let's acknowledge, we've still got too many folks out there who are looking for work. We've got more work to do on their behalf."
by RTT Staff Writer
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