News Column

Obama Stands Firm on Tax Increase for Rich Americans

Dec. 5, 2012

Susan Crabtree


In arguing for higher tax rates for the wealthy, President Obama has insisted that it's the only way to find enough revenue to drive down the nation's deficit over the next decade.

Republicans cannot raise the $800 billion that they claim simply by closing loopholes and eliminating deductions in the tax code, he repeatedly has contended.

"We're going to have higher rates for the wealthiest," Mr. Obama told Bloomberg Monday. "It's just a matter of math."

But not too long ago, during the failed budget negotiations in the summer of 2011, he said far more than $800 billion could be found without raising taxes.

During the middle of the intense battle with House Republicans last year, he told reporters he was pitching a plan to find $1.2 trillion without a tax increase.

"What we said was, give us $1.2 trillion in additional revenues, which could be accomplished without hiking taxes -- tax rates -- but could simply be accomplished by eliminating loopholes, eliminating some deductions and engaging in a tax-reform process that could have lowered rates generally while broadening the base," he said.

Mr. Obama didn't lay out the specifics of that plan at the time -- exactly which deductions and loopholes he would target to produce the revenue. He's now criticizing Republicans for failing to lay out the details of their plan.

But in making his offer to Mr. Obama this week, House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, cited a nine-page report by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonpartisan business-backed group, that provided three options for finding the necessary revenue by limiting deductions without increasing tax rates.

The president now is holding fast to his line that Republicans must agree to a tax-rate increase for high earners or face the possibility of letting the country fall off the so-called fiscal cliff -- which would mean letting the George W. Bush-era tax rates expire for all Americans, coupled with deep, across-the-board spending cuts.

"What I'm going to need is an acknowledgment that folks like me can pay a little bit higher rate," he said Monday.

Continuing his efforts to ratchet up public pressure, Mr. Obama will take his case for a tax-rate increase to the Business Roundtable on Wednesday, where he take questions from CEOs and other business leaders at the group's quarterly meeting.

"The president will highlight why it would hurt our economy and our nation's businesses if we do not find a solution to avoid another debt ceiling crisis, and will ask the businesses leaders for their help in supporting an approach that resolves the debt limit without drama and delay," a White House official said.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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Source: (c) 2012 The Washington Times (Washington, DC)

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