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Obama: Extend tax cuts for those who make less than $250,000

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Updated: August 11, 2012 6:12AM

President Barack Obama renewed his push Monday to extend tax cuts for the middle class but end them for those making more than $250,000 a year.

“I believe it’s time to let the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, folks like myself, to expire,” Obama said. “I’m calling on Congress to extend the tax cuts for the 98 percent of Americans who make less than $250,000 for another year.”

Failing to extend those tax cuts would cost the average family $2,200 more a year in taxes, Obama said.

Obama made the same arguments last time the Bush-era tax cuts were set to expire. But in the face of strong opposition from Republicans and a few Democrats, he agreed to extend the tax cuts on both the middle class and the wealthiest Americans, adding to the deficit.

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele sent out an e-mail mocking the media for reporting as “news” that “President Obama reiterates the exact same position.”

Republicans dismissed Obama’s push Monday as election-year politics to make Republicans look like defenders of the wealthy, knowing Obama doesn’t have the votes in Congress to separate the middle-class tax cuts from the wealthy ones.

“This is continued class warfare — not a serious tax proposal,” said Illinois GOP Chairman Patrick Brady. “It’s a give-away a week for him for every constituency he needs to win.”

But while the House is dominated by Republicans, fewer Democratic senators will buck the president on the $250,000 cut-off this time around,

With fewer exceptions than last time, Democratic senators back Obama’s plan, said Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate. But Obama’s plan may be DOA in the Republican-led House.

Brady and other Republicans argued that letting the higher tax rates resume for those earning more than $250,000 a year would hurt small businesses.

Obama said 97 percent of small businesses would fall under that $250,000 line and not be affected.

Even with the higher tax rates they paid under President Bill Clinton, the wealthy still did very well in the ‘90s, Obama noted.

“Let’s agree to do what we agree on,” Obama said. “That’s what compromise is all about. Let’s not hold the vast majority of Americans and our entire economy hostage while we debate the merits of another tax cut for the wealthy.”

Last time around, the Republicans refused to separate the issues.

“I’m not proposing anything radical here,” Obama said. “Anybody making over $250,000 a year should be go back to the income tax rates we were paying under Bill Clinton ... The American people are with me on this. Poll after poll shows that’s the case.”

Obama also tried to emphasize the point that he has cut taxes on the middle class.

“I have cut middle class taxes every year that I’ve been president,” Obama said. “We’ve cut taxes for the typical middle class family by $3,600.”

He said it again and added, “I wanted to repeat that because sometimes there’s a little misinformation out there.”

Sunsetting the Bush-era tax cuts on high earners means their businesses will have less money to hire workers, Republicans said.

Obama said the tax breaks for wealthiest Americans that started under Bush did not prompt them to hire more workers.

“We’ve tried it their way — it didn’t work,” Obama said. “Many members of the other party believe that prosperity comes form the top down ... I disagree. I think they’re wrong ... I believe our prosperity has always come from an economy that’s built on a strong and growing middle class.”

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