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Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Let's Have More Class Warfare
sagging jobs numbers, Obama sought to recast the November election as a fight
over tax fairness, better known as class warfare, urging tax cut extensions for
all families earning less than $250,000 but denying them to households making
more than that.
The pitch was aimed at painting
Mitt Romney as a protector of the rich at a time of economic unease, as
Democrats intensify efforts to raise questions about the Romney's own wealth
and offshore bank accounts.
Romney supports extending the
federal tax cuts, first signed by George W. Bush, for all income earners.
Obama said if Congress passes a
one-year extension for those making less than $250,000, voters can use the
November election to decide the fate of the cuts for higher income earners, so essentially Obama's buying your vote with your money by allowing you to keep more of your earnings.
"My opponent will fight to
keep them in place. I will fight to end them," said Obama, flanked by a
dozen people the White House said would benefit from the tax cut extension.
The president has long
supported ending the Bush-era tax cuts for those making more than $250,000. The
White House and the president's re-election team are reviving his arguments now
as a way to suggest that the push by Romney and congressional Republicans for
an across-the-board extension of the tax cuts could put America's middle class
not hold the vast majority of Americans and our economy hostage while we debate
the merits of another tax cut for the
wealthy," Obama said at the White House.
president's sudden focus on the tax fairness debate was also an attempt to
change the election subject after yet another lackluster jobs report. New
numbers released Friday showed the nation's unemployment rate stuck at 8.2
percent, giving Romney fresh grounds to attack Obama as unfit to steer the U.S.
Romney campaign spokeswoman
Andrea Saul said the president was responding to the bad economic news by
calling for a "massive tax increase."
"It just proves again that
the president doesn't have a clue how to get America working again and help the
middle class," Saul said.
Obama said his proposal was
aimed at staving off an end-of-the year stalemate with Congress. But it
appeared to have the opposite effect.
immediately balked, saying it would be a mistake to raise taxes on anyone while
the economy was still struggling to recover. The House GOP plans to make its
own push this summer for a full extension of the tax cuts.
Obama said later Monday that he
would veto such a bill if it landed on his desk.
Ahead of Obama's remarks on
Monday, White House officials consulted with congressional Democrats to shore
up support within the party. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a member of his party's Senate leadership, had
both previously advocated extending the cuts to those who make up to $1 million
annually, but on Monday they stood in solidarity with the president.
Pissed Off Democrat
Obama angered many fellow
Democrats in 2010 when he signed off on a full extension of the Bush tax cuts,
in part to win concessions from Republicans on other legislation.
Extending the tax cuts only for
households making below $250,000 would save the government about $800 billion
over 10 years compared with extending them for everyone. The full cuts cost the
government about $4.5 trillion over a decade.
Economists worry that
across-the-board tax increases, along with automatic spending cuts also
scheduled to take hold at year's end, could be a blow to the shaky U.S.
About 2.5 million U.S.
households had incomes of $250,000 annually or more, according to the 2010 U.S.
Census. The median household income in 2010 was $49,445.
Romney, whose personal wealth
could exceed $250 million, would be among the nation's richest presidents if
elected, and the Obama campaign has sought to portray him as disconnected from
middle class voters.
Democrats ramped up their calls
over the weekend for Romney to release more of his tax returns, which would
outline the investments he has lived off of for more than a decade.
"I think what's important
if you're running for president is that the American people know who you are,
what you've done and that you're an open book," Obama said Monday in an
interview with New Hampshire television station WMUR. "And that's been
true of every presidential candidate dating back to Mr. Romney's father."
Romney has so far refused to
release more than two years of tax returns, breaking from a precedent set by
his father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney, who released 12 years of
returns when he sought the presidency a generation ago.
Romney's campaign dismisses the
Obama campaign's tactics as an attack on success. And Romney hasn't shown any
indications of trying to deny his wealth. He spent Sunday in the Hamptons, the
wealthy enclave on Long Island, holding three fundraisers at wealthy donors'
homes as protesters stood outside. At the day's third event, at the Southampton
estate of billionaire industrialist David Koch, donors were asked to give
$50,000 per person or $75,000 per couple.
On Monday, Romney raised money
in Aspen, Colo., the resort town where Michelle Obama has vacationed. And he
spent the previous week jet skiing and boating on Lake Winnipesaukee in New
Hampshire, where he has a lakeside estate worth millions.
While hardly in Romney's
league, Obama also is well-off and acknowledges it. At one point Monday, he
said that "it's time to let the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans,
folks like myself, to expire.
The president, too, was
mingling with the wealthy on Monday. Hours after calling for increased taxes on
higher income earners, he attended two campaign fundraisers in Washington that
cost donors $40,000 per person.
The Romney campaign announced
Monday that, in conjunction with the Republican National Committee, it raised
$106 million in June. The Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee
raised $71 million.